DETROIT -- The Tigers remain optimistic that they'll be able to ink deals with their unsigned picks from the First-Year Player Draft. Getting them signed without having to go up to the deadline later this month is another matter.
Major League teams have until 11:59 p.m. ET on Aug. 16 to sign their selections, or lose their rights. The Tigers still have four of their top five picks unsigned, including first-rounders Nick Castellanos and Chance Ruffin. While vice president of amateur scouting David Chadd said he was upbeat on signing them, his gut feeling was that it would "probably" go right up to the deadline.
As team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski put it, "I think that's the way the process works in today's game."
As a sign of how important the deadline plays in negotiations, the Tigers haven't had extensive talks with their top picks or their advisers. Top picks have historically used the deadline as leverage to try to get the best deal they can above slot, whether it involves a Major League contract or a bigger signing bonus.
"I'm guessing in the next week, things will pick up," Chadd said.
Castellanos, a power-hitting infielder out of Archbishop McCarthy High School in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., has to choose between professional baseball or a scholarship to play at the University of Miami. Indications so far suggest he's open to either option. Ruffin must decide whether to turn pro or go back to the bullpen at the Unviersity of Texas.
Also yet to sign are second-rounder Drew Smyly, a left-handed pitcher from the University of Arkansas, and right-hander Cole Green, Ruffin's teammate at Texas and Detroit's fourth-round selection.
Ilitch: Leyland, Dombrowski will return in '11
DETROIT -- Any lingering question about the futures of Tigers president/general manager Dave Dombrowski and manager Jim Leyland seemed to find its answer Friday, when team owner Mike Ilitch said both will be back next year.
Ilitch made the comments to reporters during a Friday afternoon press conference for the other team he owns, the Detroit Red Wings, who introduced new signing Mike Modano.
"I'm staying with Dave and I'm staying with our manager," Ilitch said, according to the Detroit News. "I feel we're gonna move forward. I think we'll be solid."
Dombrowski and Leyland are both under contract through next season, so the word from Ilitch doesn't require any move contractually. Dombrowski signed his current contract after the Tigers' trip to the World Series in 2006. Leyland signed his extension in the middle of last season, when the Tigers were in first place for much of the year before falling to second in a one-game tiebreaker loss to the Twins.
The Tigers have fallen back since the All-Star break, due in no small part to injuries in the starting lineup. The Tigers won't have Magglio Ordonez until September after he fractured his right ankle on a slide. Brandon Inge missed two weeks with a fractured left hand, and Carlos Guillen is on track to return Monday from a strained right calf.
Dombrowski and Leyland could have a different-looking team on their hands next year, with more than $50 million coming off the payroll with expiring contracts to Jeremy Bonderman, Inge, Gerald Laird, Johnny Damon, Bobby Seay, plus former Tigers Nate Robertson, Dontrelle Willis and Adam Everett. Detroit will most likely have to decide whether to exercise a $15 million option on Ordonez for next year.
Ilitch indicated he'll give Dombrowski and the rest of the management the finances to be active in the offseason. But he also suggested that he'll look for flexibility rather than long-term contracts.
"I think I'm at the point where I've got this foundation where I want to be Boston and I want to be New York," Ilitch told the Detroit Free Press. "Every year you've got holes to fill, two or three. We got there in 2006. We haven't been able to get up there and stay there like the Wings."
Leyland shakes up lineup against Angels
DETROIT -- Brennan Boesch spent most of the summer as Miguel Cabrera's protection in the Tigers' lineup. For now, he has become one of Cabrera's table-setters.
Manager Jim Leyland didn't know whether his new-look lineup would pay off in Friday's series opener against the Angels. But with his offense largely struggling, his rookie slugger most of all, he felt like he had to try something different and try to find a spark.
"The move was just to shake it up, try something," Leyland said. "I normally don't get into that too much, but maybe we'll do a little bit more. I just tried to change it up for them a little bit, put a power guy in that No. 2 hole.
"It's worked for me a few times over my career. Maybe it'll be a little bit different for him. It's nothing that I think is going to be an instant success necessarily, but we have to try something."
The move to put a power hitter in the second spot came years ago from Leyland's good friend, Cardinals manager Tony La Russa. It comes with Boesch in the midst of an 8-for-80 slump over his past 21 games and opponents choosing to walk cleanup hitter Miguel Cabrera more often than they had before.
For Friday, protecting Cabrera in the lineup fell upon Jhonny Peralta, an 8-for-20 lifetime hitter against Angels starter Jered Weaver. Johnny Damon, 4-for-25 off Weaver, dropped from the third spot to sixth, a position he hasn't started since 1999 with the Royals.
Will Rhymes, who had been starting in the second spot, dropped to ninth.
Guillen goes hitless in first rehab game
DETROIT -- Carlos Guillen went 0-for-2 with a walk Friday night in his first rehab game for Class A West Michigan.
Guillen, who started at second base in his return from a right calf strain that forced him to the 15-day disabled list on July 25, walked in his first at-bat in the second inning before grounding into a double play to end the third. He hit a comebacker for a force out in the sixth inning before being lifted for Jimmy Gulliver to start the seventh.
Guillen is expected to remain with West Michigan this weekend on its road trip to Dayton. He'll start again Saturday and likely Sunday, according to Tigers manager Jim Leyland, before the Tigers evaluate him.
Guillen is eligible to come off the DL on Monday, and barring a setback, the Tigers would likely do so.
Gloves for Kids drive taking place on Saturday
DETROIT -- The Tigers will be collecting new and gently used baseball and softball equipment for their annual Gloves for Kids drive Saturday afternoon at Gate A at Comerica Park.
The collection will run from 5:30 p.m. ET through the end of the second inning near the "Big Tiger." Fans do not need a game ticket to come and make a donation.
The Tigers started the Gloves for Kids program to help support youth sports in the Detroit area, providing kids the sports equipment they need to play organized baseball and softball.
In addition to the donation drive, Major League Baseball's Baseball Tomorrow Fund will provide a $5,000 grant to purchase new gear for a local youth baseball organization.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.