Notes: Robertson tries to dig deeper
Grilli readjusts on the mound; Perez pulled with dizziness
VERO BEACH, Fla. -- Nate Robertson is getting his work in without getting roughed up, but his work isn't getting him very deep into games.
Robertson, in his third outing of the spring on Tuesday against the Dodgers, was scheduled to pitch about four innings or about 65 pitches. He hit the pitch count, but he had two outs in the third inning when he did it.
Robertson gave up a run on three hits in his third outing of the spring, but he worked deep into counts on several hitters while trying to spot the outside corner. He's the only member of the Tigers rotation who has yet to last three innings in a start. It's a little frustrating for him, even if it doesn't mean much once the season starts.
"I'm around the zone, but I think the biggest thing I need to get out of it is more strike-one counts, where I get that strike on the first pitch," said Robertson, who fell behind five of the six hitters he faced in his opening inning. "There's plusses [in that I'm] keeping the ball down. I feel great. I'm not being efficient enough right now, but I do feel good keeping the ball down.
"I'm throwing three pitches. I threw some really good changeups today, threw some good sliders today, some good two-seam fastballs. But I need to be a little more efficient."
Robertson worked ahead better in his second inning, but struggled to get third strikes.
"I thought he was outstanding," manager Jim Leyland said, "for the simple reason that he wasn't in sync, got out of whack, had a couple close calls he didn't get, but he didn't really panic. If we don't have a bad-hop ground ball, he ends up giving up no runs, as bad as it seems for him. So I was really happy with him and proud of him. He showed a lot of poise and battled through it, and I reminded him of that."
Un-change for Grilli: Jason Grilli made an adjustment early this spring by standing on the first-base side of the pitching rubber, and had some early struggles because of it. He changed back to the third-base side and looked more comfortable, and it showed in his brief outing Tuesday.
Grilli relieved Robertson with two outs and ended up in a bases-loaded jam with Dodgers prospect Matt Kemp at the plate. With a 2-2 count, Grilli fired a fastball on the corner for a called third strike.
"I felt so much more like myself today," Grilli said. "The strike zone felt so much bigger."
Neifi pulled: Though the Dodgers and Tigers agreed to use the designated hitter in Tuesday's game, Leyland ended up making an unexpected double switch when he took out Robertson in the third inning. Neifi Perez, who started at shortstop, left the game at the same time for Kevin Hooper. He was feeling ill.
"He was dizzy and light-headed," Leyland said, "and I didn't want to take a chance, so I got him out. I don't want somebody passing out on me."
Hello to Lance: While Leyland had a chance to visit an old friend in former Tigers general manager Bill Lajoie, he also paid a visit to former Tigers great Lance Parrish, who will be managing the Dodgers' new Midwest League affiliate in Midland, Mich.
Leyland never managed Parrish, but he coached him in instructional league and became an admirer.
"He was just a dedicated, tough, hard-nosed kid," Leyland said. "I think the thing I like most about Lance is he was never looking for any fanfare, never big-shotted anymore, always down to earth. He was just one of the guys, very quiet, never looked for attention."
Leyland loves the fact that Parrish is giving managing a shot and is willing to ride the bus in the Minors to do it. Leyland doesn't think everybody has to do it, but he likes the willingness to learn the trade.
"I think it's real important, and I really admire him for that," Leyland said. "Here this guy's a superstar big-leaguer, and he's down in A-ball managing, trying to hopefully get a shot at managing in the big leagues. Who knows? This sounds crazy, but down the road at some point, Lance Parrish could be the manager of the Detroit Tigers. I don't know if it would happen, but it's a possibility."
Injury updates: Magglio Ordonez returned to the lineup Tuesday for the first time since Josh Beckett's curveball hit him in the head last Saturday. Ordonez started in right field and went 1-for-2 with a double and a walk before Brent Clevlen pinch-ran for him.
Craig Monroe, out since suffering a flareup of patellar tendinitis in his left knee last Friday, did not make the trip here. He's considered day-to-day.
Lesson for Cameron: Cameron Maybin, his option to the Minors likely looming as Opening Day approaches, got to play nine innings on Tuesday and made the most of it, playing a part in all three Tigers runs. He went 1-for-3 with an RBI single and saw two more runs come home when his popup fell in between third baseman Andy La Roche and shortstop Wilson Valdez, who collided for a game-tying error.
Maybin also learned a lesson about the basepaths. After singling in Vance Wilson in the fifth, Maybin took off on a 3-1 pitch to Curtis Granderson and was thrown out by a wide margin at second base.
"Shouldn't have gone," Leyland said. "That's part of the learning process. That's a good lesson for the kid."
Maybin didn't get off to the jump he hoped to get. He said he's working with coaches this spring on his baserunning, including footwork.
"It's still early," Maybin said. "I'm working on jumps and timing and everything. It's all right. It's not going to be the last time I get thrown out. We're going to keep working on it."
Countdown at Dodgertown: Tuesday was the Tigers' only trip to Dodgertown this spring. Next spring is scheduled to be the last for the Dodgers at the historic facility, ending a relationship that began in 1948 and represents a throwback to yesteryear.
Though few if any Tigers on the trip called Dodgertown their spring home, more than a few have memories of playing here. While the facility boasts ambience for some, others know it more for its small visiting clubhouse, lack of shade and dugouts without a roof. Robertson remembers making his first Florida State League start here on July 4, 2001; he still considers it one of the hottest days he's ever pitched.
Wilson remembers the place more fondly. He won a league title in the Mets farm system with a victory here years ago, and he has visited many times in the spring over the years.
"I enjoy this place," he said. "I always played well here. Big fan. A lot of guys talk about the dugouts, but it's different. It's cool. I'll miss it."
Listen to the music: Leyland played host of sorts to some unexpected guests on Tuesday. Mark Russo, saxophonist for the Doobie Brothers, and singer/songwriter Steve George were visiting Cardinals camp with manager Tony La Russa, but made the trip up to Dodgertown while the Cardinals traveled to Fort Myers.
Coming up: After road games on both Florida coasts Monday and Tuesday, the Tigers return home Wednesday to face the Mets for the second time in four days and the fourth time this spring. Kenny Rogers is scheduled to make his third start of the spring and his second against this club. John Maine and Mike Pelfrey are expected to pitch for New York.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.