Spring Training Week 5 Notables

Verlander is gearing up for the season

Carlos Guillen and Joel Zumaya will start the season on the disabled list, Justin Verlander ready for April, a number of players were cut from camp as minor league spring training got under way, meanwhile Adam Wilk remains competing for a bullpen spot.

NOTES, QUOTES
--LHP Daniel Schlereth was scheduled for a two-inning tuneup after his March 16 inning resulted in four straight walks. "I was trying to locate my fastball on the inner half of the plate, but couldn't do it," Schlereth said. "I can't remember having location as bad as that in a long time. I would have been in trouble in Little League. I don't know what the problem was." Schlereth missed more than a week's worth of work with a hamstring strain and his wildness came after a good inning in his first outing back.

--RHP Justin Verlander was having a good spring in his effort to avoid going through a bad April again. Verlander allowed one run in a March 15 start against Boston and it raised his spring ERA to 1.20. He enters the 2011 season with a 7-11 record and 5.06 ERA for his 26 starts in April only to bounce back in May for an 18-8 mark with a 2.75 ERA for 29 career starts. "I have to compliment Justin on trying to take his game to the next level," manager Jim Leyland said. "He's figured things out himself. I give him a lot of credit. He knows what he's doing."

--2B Carlos Guillen will open the season on the disabled list. Manager Jim Leyland said Guillen, 35, will be left behind to recuperate from last fall's microfracture knee surgery. "I want him to be 100 percent when he comes back, so whenever that is, it's fine. I'm not rushing anybody," Leyland said. "If you do bring him back now, you can't play him every single day on it. You might be able to get him some at-bats by way of the DH, but you've still got to play the field and run the bases as well. I'm not frustrated about it. I'm just making the point." He added that Guillen and RHP Joel Zumaya, who will also open the season on the DL, "could end up ... two of the most important pieces as the season rolls on."

--RHP Joel Zumaya will remain in Florida on the disabled list, manager Jim Leyland said, when Detroit opens the season in New York against the Yankees. Zumaya pitched in Detroit's first exhibition game but lingering soreness in his surgically repaired right elbow held him out of action after that. He was told not to pick up a baseball and still had not resumed throwing through March 18. "He's feeling better," Leyland added, "but walking around, and bending your elbow and everything, is different from feeling better when he's throwing 98 miles an hour."

--RF Magglio Ordonez has shown little lingering effects of fracturing his ankle last July 25. Ordonez, who will play at 37 this year, hit his first home run of the spring March 13 and was looking good at the plate and in the field all spring. "I never was worried about my form," he said. "I knew the ankle was going to take some time to heal, and once it healed, it's nothing to worry about. I don't consider myself an old player. I feel good. I think as long as you work, you can play for a long time. Every year, it gets harder and harder, but I'm just going to try to be consistent and try to do what I've done in the past -- drive in runs and hit for average with some power." Ordonez is at the stage of his career where he goes year-by-year. He is signed for $10 million this season.

--LHP Charlie Furbush needs to relax and work on his control. The rookie worked two scoreless innings March 17 but walked three to go with four strikeouts. "You've got to learn how to make it a little bit easier on yourself,'" manager Jim Leyland told him. "Just let your ability take over and not worry about getting the out before you throw the pitch. Throw the pitch, make your pitch, you'll get the out. You want to see the results before you throw the pitch. He's a young guy -- he's all hyped up. That's normal. He's trying to make an impression. It's hard to explain, but you're better off being more relaxed and letting the ball come out real easy."

--LHP Adam Wilk has a chance to make Detroit's bullpen as a long reliever. Manager Jim Leyland said Wilk was "very, very impressive" this spring. "He's not overpowering, but he has four quality pitches he can throw at any time in the count for strikes," C Alex Avila said. "He's funky, very deceptive, hides the ball well, and has very good movement on his pitches. The way he is able to change speeds and use all his pitches with the deception he has is certainly a quality." Wilk walked 19 batters in 143 2/3 innings for Class A Lakeland last summer and was the organization's minor league pitcher of the year. "I'm still going day by day," Wilk said. "I'm not trying to make the decision myself. There's always the outside thought (of making the team). It kind of creeps in, but I try to knock it way. Anything can still happen, good or bad."

--LHP Andy Oliver was among 18 players optioned to the minors or reassigned to minor league camp March 15, the first big roster cut of the spring by Detroit. Oliver was optioned to Triple-A Toledo and was expected to be the Opening Day pitcher for the Mud Hens. He showed much better confidence and command of his off-speed pitches and relied less on his fastball, lessons learned last summer when he was 0-4 in a five-start summer call-up by the Tigers.

--RHP Jacob Turner was optioned to Double-A Erie March 15 as part of the Tigers' first big round of cuts in spring training. Turner, Detroit's top choice in the 2009 draft, worked at two Class A levels last year in his first exposure to pro ball. He has four solid pitches and was expected to open the season for the SeaWolves. Turner showed last spring and again this year he can get major league hitters out. He needs to build up his stamina and get more experience.

BY THE NUMBERS: 5.06/2.75 -- Earned run averages posted by RHP Justin Verlander in April and May over his career. A chief emphasis of the Detroit ace this spring was to eliminate that bad first month. He owns a 7-11 career record in 26 April starts but is 18-8 in 29 May starts.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "The thing is to not fall into a performance trap -- to figure out, instead, what's best for the team instead of '0-for-4 off it, 3-for-4 on it.' If you just go only by performance, you're nothing more than a fan." -- Manager Jim Leyland, on figuring out the season-opening roster.

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