04/09/07 4:45 PM ET
Notes: No rest for Rodriguez
Tigers catcher will start first eight games of the season
By Jeff Seidel / Special to MLB.com
Rodriguez always has fared well at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, and he is the team's leading hitter with a .381 average this season. He's first on the team with two homers, is tied with new teammate Gary Sheffield for first with four RBIs and is second with 14 total bases.
At Oriole Park alone, however, Rodriguez has a .322 average (77-for-239) in 61 games. He's got 25 doubles, 11 homers and 32 RBIs.
"He keeps himself in great shape," Leyland said. "He's very proud of that fact. He's one of the best runners we've got on the team. He's always good about letting me know."
Rodriguez batted sixth Monday in Baltimore, one day after his three-run homer gave the Tigers a come-from-behind 3-2 victory over the Royals.
Leyland said he'll keep an eye on Rodriguez for fatigue, but the manager doesn't worry much about that. Rodriguez won his 12th Gold Glove last year and played 136 games.
"He's good about telling me when he needs to back off a little," Leyland said.
Battling the cold: Detroit closer Todd Jones said the extreme cold teams have gone through in the first week can be very tough for pitchers to deal with, but the weather eventually gives them an edge over hitters.
"Once a pitcher gets loose, I think the pitchers really get the advantage, because the hitters are so [concerned] about getting their hands blown up," Jones said. "I think the pitcher is at an advantage."
Jones said Leyland makes sure Tigers relievers have more time to warm up, giving them a few more extra batters to get loose on cold days.
In addition, Jones said those from the Detroit bullpen also can draw off experience from situations like last year's World Series. The temperatures were 53 degrees or below in four of the five games against the Cardinals.
"It was pretty rough," Jones said.
The pitchers had to deal with the weather in Monday's matinee with the Orioles, as the game-time temperature in Baltimore was just 44 degrees.
Seeing an old friend: Leyland said he's interested in catching up with Orioles reliever Jamie Walker, who had a solid season for Detroit in 2006.
Walker signed with the Orioles as a free agent in the offseason as they worked at rebuilding their shaky bullpen. The left-hander usually worked in a situational role for the Tigers last year, and he probably will have a similar role with the Orioles this season.
He went 0-1 with a 2.81 ERA in 56 games last season with the Tigers.
"I can't wait to see him," Leyland said. "He's a good man, a big part of our team, and we miss him. We miss him a lot."
Oriole Park success, part 2: Similar to Rodriguez, outfielder Magglio Ordonez has found success in Baltimore.
Ordonez had a .342 average (41-for-120) with five homers and 18 RBIs in 31 games at Oriole Park heading into Monday's contest. He's also scored 20 runs and banged out four doubles.
The .342 average ranked third among active players who've played at the ballpark.
He kept the hot streak going in his first at-bat Monday by doubling into the right-field corner and scoring the game's first run.
Welcome back: Detroit right-hander Chad Durbin got the start Monday, his first Major League start since Aug. 26, 2004, when he pitched for the Indians against the White Sox.
He was 0-0 with a 1.50 ERA in three appearances with the Tigers last year. But that came after a solid 11-8 season with Triple-A Toledo of the International League. Durbin had a 3.11 ERA in 28 games (all starts) with the Mud Hens.
In addition, Durbin's 149 strikeouts led all IL pitchers last season. He's stepping into Kenny Rogers' spot as the left-hander will be out until around midseason following recent surgery.
Quotable: "I've seen it cold before. People act like it's something new," -- Leyland, when asked about how the first week's low temperatures are affecting the game
Coming up: Left-hander Nate Robertson (1-0, 3.18 ERA) will start for Detroit in Tuesday's 7:05 p.m. ET game against the Orioles. He'll go against Jaret Wright (0-1, 15.43 ERA) in the second game of the three-game series. It will be Baltimore's first home night game of the season.
Jeff Seidel is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.