Spring Training Week 4 Notables

Schlereth returned to the mound this week

Carlos Guillen and Daniel Schlereth working on their road to recovery, Miguel Cabrera gets a mentor, and Joel Zumaya avoids major surgery. All that plus much more.

--RHP Rick Porcello annoyed his manager during a so-so start March 9. Porcello gave up a three-run home run during a shaky second inning while he was working a three-inning start against Philadelphia. "He didn't get the ball down or make adjustments," manager Jim Leyland said. "It didn't bother me that he got the ball up. What bothered me was the fact he didn't make any adjustments. You've got to adjust during the course of a game, and he didn't make any." Porcello told writers he was working on his breaking pitches. "A couple of guys I really wasn't finishing my pitches on," he said. "I just came out of a couple of pitches. I've got to work on driving the ball down. That's about it."

--1B Miguel Cabrera will have a designated follower, former major-league OF Raul Gonzalez, responsible for helping the first baseman avoid off-field problems that have gotten him in trouble two of the last three years. Gonzalez was revealed March 9 as Cabrera's official mentor in coordination with MLB, the players union, the Tigers and Cabrera's agents. Alcohol problems got Cabrera arrested late in the 2009 season and just before he was scheduled to report this year. "I've heard a lot of good things about him throughout his career, as far as a person," GM Dave Dombrowski said. "When I met him, I was very impressed. He's a quality individual." Gonzalez will not be in uniform during games but will reportedly help with pregame workouts. Exactly who pays Gonzalez was not divulged. Official documents revealed March 9 showed exactly how belligerent Cabrera was, both in the restaurant he was in before closing time and at the time of his arrest. "There are new things that have come out," Dombrowski said, "but it's the same thing we've been dealing with (since) he came to camp, really. It's no different from the club's perspective."

--UT Don Kelly has made Detroit's 25-man roster but said that won't change the way he approaches spring training. "I'm not going to approach anything differently," he said. "I have a lot of work to get in to be ready for the season. Whether you are on the team or not, you can't approach it differently than when you are fighting for a job." "There is something to be said for guys like Donny Kelly," manager Jim Leyland said. "First of all, he is a better player than people think. He did well when he got to play a little more last year. He got some big hits. He's going to be on this team." Kelly, 31, spent his first full season in the majors last year and hit .244 with nine home runs and 27 RBI in 238 at-bats over 119 games. Kelly had not hit a home run in 83 major league at-bats before last season, hitting his first April 21. He hit eight in 53 games after the All-Star break. "I was being more aggressive on pitches I can handle," Kelly said. "You can't miss those pitches in the big leagues."

--2B Carlos Guillen has begun running, but the fact he had yet to appear in an exhibition game midway through spring training practically confirmed he will open the season on the disabled list. "The running program is the last piece of the puzzle," head trainer Kevin Rand said, "The last thing is sliding. Once Carlos can do that, he will be ready to begin playing. But I'm not going to be pinned down on setting any likely timetable." Were Guillen able to play every day the last two weeks of spring training, he could possibly be the season-opening second baseman, but Detroit has been cautious to date and is likely to ease him into the lineup slowly.

--RHP Joel Zumaya was told March 7 he should not pick up a baseball for at least a week to see if that would calm lingering soreness in his right elbow, which had a screw put in last season to help heal a fractured bone at the tip of the elbow. He was talking about not throwing for two weeks as he seeks to get his four years of injury problems behind him. "It's already seeming like I'm not going to be there (Opening Day)," Zumaya said. "It seems to me I'm not going to be there. That's me talking. Everyone is so positive for me, it's kind of sad again. But if I have to miss the beginning two weeks so I can get the elbow strong and go through the rest of the season without having this issue, I'd rather do that." Zumaya pitched the first exhibition game and reported soreness the next day. Examinations showed no damage and manager Jim Leyland said there were no red flags but continuing soreness prompted the pitcher to schedule a return visit to Dr. James Andrews for March 7. "I think, to be honest with you," Leyland said, "that we all came in so positive, but I don't think anyone -- in the back of their mind -- could say Zumaya would be 100 percent healthy and ready to go. This might work out yet, and we'll all live happily ever after. But it's always that way. Whatever we get, we'll be very happy."

"Deep down inside (major damage) was what I was worried about," Zumaya said. "Like I said last year, I thought I'd officially done it. I thought I was going to have the ol' doctor say I needed Tommy John surgery. But he did multiple pictures on that (ligament) and that looks strong as heck.

--RHP Robbie Weinhardt could be the beneficiary if RHP Joel Zumaya winds up on the disabled list to start the season. Zumaya was told March 7 not to pick up a baseball for a week but the pitcher felt it might be two before he resumes throwing. Either way, Detroit is likely to be ultra cautious with Zumaya and leave him in Florida when the season begins March 31. That would clear a space for Weinhardt, one of several pitchers battling for one spot, to make the team. He has shown a better sinker and slider this spring, two of his specific offseason assignments.

--LHP Daniel Schlereth on Saturday made his first appearance in an exhibition game since straining a hamstring muscle Feb. 28. He retired the side in order in the eighth inning. Manager Jim Leyland had said earlier that if Schlereth tolerates the outing, "he'd definitely be in the mix (for Opening Day)." Schlereth entered spring training tabbed to be the successor to LHP Phil Coke as the primary late inning left-hander for the Tigers.

--LHP John Bale has moved himself into contention for a bullpen role with Detroit with early spring success. Bales, 36, spent last season with the Hiroshima Carp in Japan. He signed a minor-league deal with the Tigers and through March 10 had pitched five scoreless exhibition innings, allowing three hits and one walk while striking out two. He has 109 games of major-league experience for Toronto, Baltimore, Cincinnati and Kansas City. "He's a crafty veteran lefty who knows how to pitch and keeps hitters off balance," said Tigers hitting coach Lloyd McClendon. Bales throws a fastball, curveball and changeup and does so from two different arm slots. "I drop down to a sidearm slot to left-handed hitters," said Bale, who throws from the top to right-handers.

BY THE NUMBERS: 168 -- Major league appearances for Raul Gonzalez, assigned to help 1B Miguel Cabrera battle his alcohol problems all season. Gonzalez, who hit .233 with five home runs and 33 RBI while playing for five teams in five seasons, will travel with Detroit on the road and help during pregame workouts but will not be allowed in the dugout during games.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "He's a little raw yet, but he's one of the best prospects I've seen in the organization since I've been here. He has a chance to be a total player. I like two-way players, and he has a chance to be an outstanding two-way player. He's just a baby, but a good-looking baby." -- Manager Jim Leyland, offering his views of 19-year-old OF Avisail Garcia, scheduled to begin the season for high Class A Lakeland of the Florida State League. Garcia played at ages 17 and 18 for low Class A West Michigan of the Midwest League.

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