10/22/06 9:49 PM ET
Notes: Guillen still playing first
Verlander appeared tentative; Tram makes return to Comerica
By Jason Beck / MLB.com
The Tigers kept the same lineup for Game 2 as they had for the opener, keeping Sean Casey at designated hitter and using Guillen at first. It was Guillen's fifth consecutive game on the corner since Casey injured his left calf in the ALCS opener at Oakland.
At five straight games, Guillen is past the point of adjusting to first, where he played during the spring for Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic. He isn't aching to get back to short, he said, except for the fact that it would mean having Casey in the lineup for Game 3 at St. Louis.
"I'll be comfortable wherever I play," Guillen said. "It doesn't matter to me. It's a baseball game. If I have to play first base, shortstop, doesn't matter. I feel comfortable everywhere. Maybe not catcher, but I'll play wherever they need me."
As he pointed out, he has played all four infield positions in his nine-year Major League career, not bad considering the Astros signed him as an outfielder. While he remains a natural at shortstop, it's not impossible to think that his history of injuries and his knee problems over the last couple years could move him to another spot later in his career.
Whether he could hit enough for a first baseman is a separate matter. So far, his fielding has been largely comfortable.
"It's another position you can play in the big leagues," he said. "It's good for you. All those things, they know you can play first base. I've played second base in the big leagues, I've played some third base in the big leagues. Now I play first base. Who knows? You know where you start, but you don't know where you're going to finish."
The hardest part of the position for him is twofold.
"It's the angles," he said, "[where] the ball comes from. You have to be on time on the bag. And you don't want to be late on double plays."
Verlander tentative: By no means did Jim Leyland want to say he was disappointed in Justin Verlander over his Game 1 performance. But he had to admit he was surprised by the movement and velocity readings on his fastball.
"I just don't think that Verlander attacked the hitters," Leyland said. "I don't want to say 'disappointed,' but I was surprised. I thought with the rest that he's had, that he'd come out with a plus fastball. And for the most part, he came out with a minus fastball."
If he had his better fastball, Leyland said, his offspeed stuff was good enough that his performance could've been electric. Verlander agreed on being close, but the one pitch he regretted from the outing was actually a changeup.
"I was one pitch away from possibly having a great start," Verlander said, pointing to the Chris Duncan two-out double he gave up ahead of Albert Pujols' third-inning home run. "That might've been the one mistake, offspeed, that I made all night. I felt like my curveball was outstanding, and my changeup as well. If I can just have that with the fastball next time, it would be a good start."
He does not believe the missing fastball was lost in the nerves over a World Series Game 1 assignment. "After pitch one, it's just baseball," he said.
Leyland doesn't want to make too much of a big deal about it, because he doesn't want Verlander to overcompensate if and when he takes the mound again for Game 5 on Thursday night in St. Louis.
"You just don't want him going out there the next time trying to throw 100 mph every pitch," Leyland said. "So you've got a catch-22. But he definitely has to be more aggressive than he was last night. He has to attack the hitters."
Tram returns: Former Tigers shortstop-turned-legend-turned-manager Alan Trammell returned to Comerica Park on Sunday night to a warm reception, and not just from the fans. No fewer than a dozen Tigers players aspproached Trammell to give him either a hug or a handshake, including several of the starting pitchers he managed last year as well as Ivan Rodriguez, Magglio Ordonez, Guillen and Placido Polanco, Curtis Granderson, Marcus Thames, Brandon Inge and Ramon Santiago.
Trammell was part of the pregame ceremonies, accompanying a Southeastern Michigan Boys and Girls Club member to the mound to deliver the game ball. The crowd gave him a loud ovation when he was introduced.
Leyland on Jones: Leyland read Todd Jones' indifferent remarks about former Tiger-turned-Cardinals starter Jeff Weaver from Friday once he heard the buzz about it.
"I didn't really think it was a real big swipe," Leyland said. "I heard about it, so I read it. I don't know that it was a big swipe. I think people like to make more out of that than there probably is. However, I think it's something that definitely didn't need to be said. There's no reason to comment on a situation like that in my opinion, but I don't think in any way, shape or form that Todd Jones ripped Jeff Weaver."
To review, Jones was asked about Weaver's return to Detroit, since they were teammates from 1999-2001.
"I am the wrong guy to ask about Jeff Weaver," Jones told the Detroit News. "I am not a big advocate of his and I wasn't a big advocate of his when he was here. ... He was a good pitcher who never really panned out here. Maybe he found a home in St. Louis, but there's no love lost here that he's gone."
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.