03/31/12 5:20 PM ET
Tigers' roster set barring 'pending' moves
By Jason Beck / MLB.com
All that's left now is waiting on the roster process to play out.
"I know what my team is, pending," Leyland said.
Then he emphasized again, "Pending."
That pending part doesn't appear to be a trade. To the best of Leyland's knowledge, there are no trades imminent. He didn't rule out something happening in the next few days, deferring that business to team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski.
"What I'm telling you is that we don't definitely have any trades in place," Leyland said.
If the "pending" isn't a trade, it could be a few other moves, or it could be a process.
The Tigers don't have a lot of potential cuts who can't be sent down, but they have some potential key ones. Clete Thomas, for instance, is out of minor-league options. He's also in a battle with Andy Dirks and possibly others for the final positional spot on the Tigers roster.
Brandon Inge, for another example, would need to approve or decline a minor-league assignment if the Tigers tried to designate him for assignment.
"We're close," Leyland said. "I just learned a long time ago you have to be careful when you start cementing things too early, because I've been on teams that a guy was on the bus and the guy got called off the bus on the way to the airport."
The "pending" does not appear to be a disagreement among anybody in the organization.
"We're pretty much all on the same page," Leyland said.
The Tigers aren't up against a deadline. Teams officially don't have to set their Opening Day rosters until 5 p.m. ET on Wednesday.
Verlander speeding to regular-season mode
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The first sign that Justin Verlander was ready to wrap up Spring Training came with his first pitch Saturday afternoon against the Braves, a 96-mph fastball that caught him off-guard.
"Yeah, that was an accident," said Verlander, who prefers to save his velocity for later in a game or in tight situations. "That just came out a little hot."
Verlander didn't hit that velocity again until his lengthy battle with Eric Hinske with two out in the second inning, and he used it to set up a 88-mph changeup that sent down Hinske swinging.
This was Verlander in regular-season mode. He had spent his previous spring outing working on particular facets. Saturday was his day to put all of those facets together in a game approach.
He ended up with a rare Spring Training complete-game victory, though it came on a technicality once rains washed out the 2-1 Tigers' victory over the Braves in the seventh inning. He actually wasn't happy about that development, since he hadn't hit his targeted pitch count, so he went running through a downpour to finish his last 18 or so pitches in the indoor batting cage behind left-center field.
Add those in, and Verlander finished with 100 pitches, right where he wanted to be. He allowed a run on four hits in six innings during the actual game portion, walking none and striking out five.
The next time he steps on a mound Monday, he'll be envisioning the Red Sox batting order stepping to the plate against him and planning how to approach them.
"I feel good," Verlander said. "I did what I wanted to do. Everything's ready to go."
Laird, Inge on the mend with their injuries
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Gerald Laird was walking around the Tigers' clubhouse at Joker Marchant Stadium without any trouble Saturday morning, one day after spraining his left knee in a nasty collision with first baseman Don Kelly.
Brandon Inge was not in the clubhouse at the time, but apparently did come in for treatment for the sore groin he suffered while breaking out of the box on his game-ending double play grounder Thursday night.
Both are classified as day to day, and neither appears at this point to be a risk to open the season on the disabled list.
Head athletic trainer Kevin Rand said Laird has a Grade 1 sprain of his left knee, but appeared to be much better Saturday than he was Friday.
"He's basically a day to day guy for us," Rand said.
Inge is a slightly different situation. Rand said he's getting multiple treatments each day, but Rand sounded somewhat upbeat about his situation.
"The groin that he felt the other night at the end of the game, trying to beat out the double play ball, we've just kind of got to see where it takes us," Rand said. "He's a little bit better today. We're keeping him off the field for a couple of days, just to give that a chance to come around. And hopefully he'll be back for us in the next couple days."
Leyland mulls pitcher, hitter for roster spot
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Tigers manager Jim Leyland said at the end of February that he would discuss the idea of having the team's fifth starter make a Minor League start before he makes his first start for the Tigers, thanks mainly to the quirks of a Detroit schedule that features two off-days in the season's first five days. He also said they would probably open with 12 pitchers.
A month later, Leyland isn't saying it's going to happen, but he's leaving it open as a possibility. And it might not result in an extra relief pitcher.
"If you decide to go with the one way, you could end up with an extra guy on the team," Leyland said. "It might not be a pitcher, if you decide to go that way."
In other words, they could use the extra spot opening the season for a position player, while carrying 11 pitchers -- four starters and seven relievers.
The Tigers don't need a fifth starter until April 14, the eighth game of the season. Leyland indicated earlier in the offseason that he'd be unlikely to have the fifth starter pitch in relief for that first series until he needs to prepare for his start.
Rick Porcello threw four innings Saturday morning in a Minor League intrasquad game for Triple-A Toledo against Double-A Erie. He allowed a run on two hits with zero walks and three strikeouts.
Clete Thomas hit his third home run of the spring Wednesday with a fifth-inning go-ahead homer off Braves Opening Day starter Tommy Hanson. Tigers manager Jim Leyland said after the game that Thomas' spring was "OK, a little Jekyll and Hyde at times."
The Tigers plan to use their final pregame workout in Lakeland on Monday for one final round of fundamental drills, including popups. Leyland planned that out before Don Kelly and Gerald Laird collided over a foul ball on Friday, but it's no less timely.
"We worked on it [Thursday], and we're going to be working on it Monday," Leyland said. "You're supposed to yell out three times, 'I got it, I got it, I got it.'"