June 2005

Joe Garagiola

Standing with Hall of Fame broadcaster Joe Garagiola before the Tigers/Diamondbacks game.

Bank One Ballpark

View down the rightfield line.

Bank One Ballpark

View from the booth to centerfield.

Bank One Ballpark

View down the leftfield line.

All Star countdown

As the 76th All Star game at Comerica Park approaches, there has been a lot of speculation as to how many Tigers may make the American League team.  Manager Alan Trammell was selected to be a part of Terry Francona’s staff, but the Tigers again are lo27allstaroking to have multiple players named to the team for the second straight year.  Last season Carlos Guillen and Pudge Rodriguez were named to the club, marking the first time since 1994 that the Tigers had more than the obligatory one player named to the team.  Travis Fryman and Mickey Tettleton made the ’94 club, but can the Tigers get more than one player selected this year?  What do you think?  Bond_1 136880_90x135

The first name that comes to mind is Jeremy Bonderman.  I think Bonderman has a terrific chance.  Only Jon Garland (12) and Roy Halladay (10) have more wins than Jeremy (9).  But the starters position is crowded with the above names along with Mark Buehrle, Bartolo Colon, Kenny Rogers, Cliff Lee and Matt Clement all deserving.

Pudge Rodriguez may have a shot.  He has been hovering around .300 with a big month of June and while his power numbers may not be as impressive as those of Jorge Posada, his defense is better and I would take him over Joe Mauer.  Of course, if Tigers fans would hit the boxes hard the last week or so and boost Pudge past Jason Varitek, it would be a moot point.  Varitek at last check led by better then 300,000 votes.123660_90x135 121358_90x135   

Brandon Inge has had a marvelous season.  Not only has he learned a new position at the big league level, but he has also had to learn the nuances of hitting leadoff.  His season has been worthy of consideration, but with Alex Rodriguez running away with the vote, and Melvin Mora and Hank Blalock having good seasons with better power numbers, it may be tough for Inge to crack the list.

There has been some thought that Kyle Farnsworth should get some consideration even though he is not a closer.  His numbers are very impressive, but non-closers like Jesse Crain, Arthur Rhodes and Cliff Pollitte all have a better ERA.  I don’t think he gets the call, as it is tough for a relief pitcher that doesn’t close to be selected.

Carlos Guillen has a .355 average but has played in only 45 games, so it’s unlikely he will be selected.

One thing is certain, selecting the team is not an enviable task.  Every season, there are deserving players that are shutout.  This season will probably be no different.  Part of the problem in the past had been Joe Torre’s penchant for selecting 9000 Yankees to the squad every year.  It will be interesting to see how many Red Sox Terry Francona will select this year.  While it is the managers prerogative to select as many of his players as he would like, it invariably shuts out some deserving players.

One other note, I just posted a couple of pictures from Minnesota, with other pictures from this trip in Arizona coming in a few days.

Metrodome

Tigers/Twins in the final game of the series on a Wednesday afternoon.

“The submarine”

A view from the booth at the Metrodome. It feels like you are doing the game from a submarine.

Retired numbers

Above the right field seats, the retired numbers of former Minnesota Twins displayed on a huge white curtain.

Empty Dome

A view of an empty Metrodome from the booth during early batting practice.

Big Red can Hit!!

As Chris Shelton’s two run homer flew out of Comerica Park in the ninth inning Sunday to tie the game, I couldn’t help but to think that this guy could be something special.  It’s not often you see a player with such limited professional experience get to the big leagues and immediately hit.  Shelton had a grand total of 46 at bats last year in his Rule 5 season with the Tigers.  He hit.196 with one home run and three RBI.  This year, after 43 at bats, he’s hitting .302 with 2 homers and 10 RBI.  The difference?  Last season Shelton had 46 at bats…ALL YEAR!  SheltonAs a Rule 5 pick, the Tigers had to keep him on the roster the entire season or risk losing him. 

With sporadic at bats and nothing more that catching bullpen sessions to keep him busy, it was a tough year for Chris to swallow.  He did not however waste the year.  He took every opportunity to learn what it takes to get to the big league level and to stay.Shelt  Tigers hitting coach Bruce Fields managed Shelton this past off season in the Arizona Fall League,  a winter league comprised of many of the game’s top young prospects.  After only 46 at bats in the big leagues, Shelton went on to tear up the AFL.  He hit .404 and was the league’s MVP.  "For him to do that after basically sitting the entire year in the big leagues is incredible," Fields said. 

The former University of Utah Utes star has also seemingly mastered the art of DH’ing.  The designated hitter is very rarely a young guy.  The best DH’s in the past have been veterans who have had the ability to be able to hit and then sit and wait a half hour for the next at bat.  Guys like Harold Baines and Edgar Martinez.  For Shelton, it’s no sweat.  "I did it a lot in college and in the minors," he said.  "I’m able to find ways to fill time between at bats.  I like to watch their pitcher for patterns he may be using.  It’s just a matter of finding ways to fill the down time while you wait for your next at bat."  Bc_2

Part of the reason the Pirates let Shelton go in the draft may have been the feeling that he wasn’t as good defensively as some others in their system.  Chris played first at Toledo this season and caught a handful of games before his call- up.  In Detroit, he has played first and DH.  While he may not have the glove of a Carlos Pena, he has provided something that Carlos couldn’t:  a spark offensively.  There is a saying in baseball:  "If you can hit, they’ll find a place for you." 

Chris Shelton can hit.