Interest in Tigers pitching has picked up
Any potential moves will have no effect on club's lineup
TAMPA, Fla. -- What had been a slow Spring Training for trade discussions is beginning to pick up a little bit for the Tigers. However, anything they do isn't going to impact their starting lineup.
Whether it was a matter of an abundance of free agents on the market, a slew of teams in tight payroll situations, or simply teams looking more toward their own young players to fill roles, the phones weren't ringing nearly as often as they normally do with two weeks to go in Spring Training.
However, general manager David Dombrowski added, it has picked up the last few days, and the calls have focused mainly on his team's arms.
"A lot of clubs are calling on our pitching," Dombrowski said.
As far as a published rumor that the Tigers were "looking to upgrade" at second base, however, that isn't happening. The rumor, quoted from an unnamed official from another club that had spoken with the Tigers, is "totally not true," according to Dombrowski, who said they're happy with rookie second baseman Scott Sizemore.
The starting lineup, Dombrowski indicated, is set. The one question remaining is whether catcher Gerald Laird bats seventh and Sizemore eighth, or vice versa.
Certainly in terms of numbers, the Tigers have an abundance, beginning with their starting competition. As the competition for the final two spots heads into the final days of camp, the big question revolves around what will happen with the odd man out.
Dontrelle Willis is currently slated to start Tuesday against Baltimore, with Jeremy Bonderman scheduled to start the same day in either a Minor League or camp game back at Tigertown. Nate Robertson is scheduled to make his final spring tuneup Thursday against the Braves.
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All three pitchers are under contract for this year at $10 million or more, and all of them are eligible for free agency at season's end. All three are trying to come back from injury-plagued 2009 seasons.
Manager Jim Leyland said Saturday that there's a possibility that whomever doesn't win a starting spot could still make the Opening Day roster in the bullpen, where injuries to Zach Miner and Bobby Seay have left two voids to fill. Still, Bonderman said after his start last Thursday night that he expects something could happen. Essentially, he said, all three of them are pitching for big league jobs, whether it's in Detroit or somewhere else.
Several scouts attended Robertson's last start Saturday against the Yankees at Joker Marchant Stadium. His spring performance, plus the fact that his injuries last year weren't as serious as the others, could draw interest on the market.
Dombrowski isn't commenting on talks regarding specific pitchers. Still, he could be in for an active final few days of camp with his phone.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.