Tigers notes: Ausmus talks starting rotation
MAR 07, 2014 10:53p ET
TAMPA -- When Detroit Tigers manager Brad Ausmus was asked about Justin Verlander's path of pitching every fifth day ending up exactly on March 31, which is Opening Day, he smiled and said, "Is that what it is?"
Ausmus noted that he didn't know where Verlander's pitch count build-up will be three weeks from now, saying that he has "options" in any case. Those options would be 2013 Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer and last year's American League earned run average leader, Anibal Sanchez.
Sanchez started Friday night in a 3-2 loss to the New York Yankees at Steinbrenner Field, and would line up to pitch April 1 by continuing to pitch every fifth day. Game two of the season is April 2 against the Kansas City Royals in Detroit. However, Max Scherzer would line up for March 30, the day before the season opens.
Might that have something to do with Ausmus' comment about splitting up his "Big Three" starting rotation?
"We might split them up a little bit so in most series you are seeing two of three," said Ausmus, who wants to stay away from having only one of those pitchers going in a three-game series -- particularly against top division rivals.
Ausmus confirmed that Verlander's first Grapefruit League start will be Tuesday against the Toronto Blue Jays in Lakeland, and said he'd talk to each starter once making a decision on the rotation order.
Sanchez said the order was not very significant to him.
"I don't think your number in the rotation is important," Sanchez said. "What is important is getting wins for your team, and doing your job whether you are first, second or third in the order."
Sanchez came one pitch away from a scoreless three innings against the Yankees, but served up a long two-run homer to Carlos Beltran. Sanchez struck out five and looked pretty good on 52 of the 53 pitches he threw.
"Everything was working -- especially my curveball," Sanchez said. "I had good command."
Rick Porcello and Drew Smyly, according to Ausmus, could "split" starts with three off days during the first two weeks of the season. "And it's an opportunity to keep Smyly's innings in check," Ausmus said. Smyly has not thrown more than 126 innings in a professional season, and spent 2013 in the bullpen.
Closer Joba Chamberlain struck out two and gave up a single and a walk in a scoreless inning against the Yankees -- his team for the last seven seasons. "He got into a little trouble and got himself out of it," said Ausmus. "He threw a couple good sliders. When his slider is on, it's a swing-and-miss pitch ...Tigers left fielder Rajai Davis came in and made a diving catch to rob Jacoby Ellsbury of a single ...Austin Jackson continued his hot hitting with a run-scoring triple and scored on a single by Steve Lombardozzi.
Ausmus said reliever Bruce Rondon felt something "non-throwing related" in his last outing, and was bumped back a day to Saturday as a precaution ...Lefty Casey Crosby, according to Ausmus, "looked good" throwing to live hitters for the first time after being delayed by elbow problems ...Shortstop Jose Iglesias (shins) played soft toss and continues making progress toward returning to action ...The Yankees scored their winning run on a ninth-inning balk by Luis Marte. Ausmus said the balk was his fault because he accidentally put on a pickoff play for third base.
MR. OCTOBER'S INSIGHTS
Reggie Jackson is a special advisor to the Yankees and still enjoys watching batting practice.
"Who's that kid there?" Jackson asked. "He's really got some pop in his bat."
When told it was Tigers rookie third baseman Nick Castellanos, Jackson wanted more information on his background.
Then he watched Tigers center fielder Austin Jackson, whom he mentored while in the Yankees farm system, and asked how he was doing. Jackson is batting .563 with one homer and eight RBIs.
When told Austin Jackson was doing very well, Reggie Jackson said, "That's great. I still think he's going to hit 15 to 20 homers every year." Jackson has hit 4, 10, 16 and 12 homers in his four seasons with Detroit.
Jackson chatted briefly with new Tigers manager Brad Ausmus, who said he remembered meeting Jackson at the 1999 All-Star Game while playing for Detroit.
"For guys my age and older," said Ausmus, "he brings up a lot of memories. I didn't root for him as a Boston fan, but he left an indelible mark."