02/24/2013 6:45 PM ET
Leyland happy about defense vs. basestealers
By Jason Beck / MLB.com
LAKELAND, Fla. -- Tigers manager Jim Leyland isn't going to overplay Spring Training results. If there's one stat he will play up a little, it'll be the stinginess they're showing with would-be basestealers.
When Alex Avila threw out Carlos Ruiz on Sunday, followed by Brad Davis throwing out Ender Inciarte, it improved Tigers catchers to 4-for-5 in retiring basestealers through three games this spring. Four different catchers, including backups Brayan Pena and Bryan Holaday, have thrown out runners at second.
Controlling the running game was one of the first points Leyland made when camp began nearly two weeks ago.
"The catchers have done a nice job so far throwing people out," Leyland said. "We're doing a pretty good job of holding [runners] halfway tight."
Minor injuries starting to mount for Tigers
LAKELAND, Fla. -- The injuries so far in Tigers camp are minor, but they're starting to add up. They now include a projected member of the Opening Day lineup, with Andy Dirks scratched from Sunday's game shortly before first pitch.
Dirks is considered day-to-day with what was called a mild left intercostal strain. He took part in pregame workouts and batting practice, but went back to the clubhouse shortly before it ended. He indicated his rib area had been tight for a little while when he was working out.
Quintin Berry replaced Dirks in Sunday's starting lineup.
Dirks characterized the decision as precautionary. That doesn't mean his absence will be brief. With three bus trips coming up in the next four days, and no urgency to rush Dirks back with Opening Day more than a month away, the Tigers could remain cautious for a while before bringing him back to action.
The timetable is similarly unclear on infielder Ramon Santiago, who's out with a strained right calf. Manager Jim Leyland tried to provide an unofficial timetable on Sunday morning, and it didn't sound good.
"You might as well mark him down as out for a while," Leyland said.
Santiago sounded more optimistic, saying he could be back in a matter of days. He said he felt better on Sunday than he did when he strained it running pregame sprints on Saturday.
"When I was running, I felt it," Santiago said, "and I looked back to see if there was anybody there. It felt like somebody spiked me."
Verlander addresses '$200 million pitcher' comment
LAKELAND, Fla. -- Justin Verlander was asked about the $200 million pitcher comment that appeared on Yahoo Sports. He owned the comment, but his point was this: If you're answering honestly, isn't there an obvious answer?
"Wouldn't you like to be the first $200 million writer?" Verlander asked.
He wasn't trying to say he'd be hitting the open market looking for every last dollar, he explained. He was just stating the obvious answer to an obvious question.
"When people ask me questions, you guys you know me, I'm honest and I talk about things," Verlander said. "The question was posed to me: 'Do you want to be the first $200 million pitcher?' Well, yeah. What kind of question is that? Of course I do. …
"I don't want to be seen as the greedy guy that wants to get paid the best because, whatever. But, like I said, if the question's posed to me, I'm honest."
As for his on-field matters, Verlander said he liked his mix of pitches in his first Spring Training start. Though he hung a changeup or two early on, he used his offspeed pitch for a strikeout of Darin Ruf after Ryan Howard's leadoff double in the second. He also threw his first sliders of the spring, though he didn't get the results on them he would've liked.
Verlander doesn't throw the slider in early spring workouts, or even in his side sessions between starts, because he doesn't want to tax his arm.
There was at least one question, though, that he answered mysteriously. When asked if he had any new pitches or new approaches going this spring that he was open to discuss, he shook his head.
"No. Not yet," he said. "I've got some ideas."
Tigers announce '13 promotional schedule
LAKELAND, Fla. -- The Tigers have a slew of items honoring Miguel Cabrera and his MVP season to offer fans on their 2013 promotional schedule, from a miniature bat giveaway on the first Sunday of the season to a mini bobblehead, full-size bobblehead and knit hat.
Fathead likenesses of Justin Verlander and Prince Fielder, posters of Torii Hunter and Max Scherzer, and a Doug Fister mousepad are other highlights among the 35 giveaway promotions the Tigers have scheduled, along with 18 postgame fireworks shows.
The Tigers will give away items through their season-opening weekend series against the Yankees, starting with their traditional magnet schedule featuring Cabrera on Opening Day. The first 10,000 fans through the gates on Saturday, April 6, will receive a Tigers 2012 American League Championship banner.
Sunday, April 7, will be the Cabrera mini-bat giveaway for all kids in attendance, part of the Sunday Kids Day promotions.
The Tigers' two Wednesday home games in April will feature mini-bobblehead giveaways. The first 10,000 fans through the gates on April 10 will receive the Cabrera version; the same number through the gates on April 24 will receive one of Verlander.
• Bruce Rondon's fastball registered 100 mph two or three times in his first Spring Training appearance on Saturday, according to a talent evaluator. Rondon's fastball was consistent at 99 mph.
• The Baseball Tomorrow Fund presented a grant for $47,660 to Santa Fe Catholic High School in Lakeland prior to Sunday's game. The grant will go toward installing lighting equipment on the school's baseball field, which serves 1,000 players every year.
• Rafael Belliard said on Sunday he plans to be coaching at first base on Monday when the Tigers visit the Phillies. It would be his first game at his new position this spring, and it would come less than a month after he underwent surgery to remove two cancerous tumors in his prostate.
• Max Scherzer threw what Leyland called a "great" session of live batting practice on Sunday morning on the back fields at Tigertown, putting him on track to slot into the Tigers' rotation next weekend. Scherzer is expected to make his first start next Saturday in one of the team's split-squad games.