General manager Dave Dombrowski addressed four of the Tigers' major issues Tuesday entering next week's start of spring training. He spoke at the Detroit Sports Broadcasters Association meeting at Hockeytown Café.
THE CLOSER: Bruce Rondon, a 22-year-old, 6-foot-3, 265-pound rookie with a big arm, will have every chance to win the job and replace Jose Valverde, but Dombrowski appears to have a backup plan if the youngster needs help.
He mentioned the experience of left-hander Phil Coke and veteran right-handers Joaquin Benoit and Octavio Dotel if the club has to go with a closer-by-committee.
"We could use those guys and mix and match at times,'' Dombrowski said. "At most of the spots we're pretty established at this time. In Rondon, he's the one guy that's really not battle tested at the major league level. We like his ability, he has a great arm, his secondary stuff is much improved. His slider and change-up are much improved from where they were a couple of years ago. He has closed games at the minor league level and winter ball in Venezuela and done it very successfully. He has that mentality. We're not anointing him that role. We hope he wins the job in spring training. I think, in my opinion, he'll handle it fine.''
MIDDLE INFIELD: The Tigers reportedly listened to trade offers for shortstop Jhonny Peralta, but the veteran stayed put. Second baseman Omar Infante gets a full year at second base after coming over in a trade during the season. Dombrowski isn't worried about the duo.
"We like the middle of our diamond; we like Peralta and Infante,'' Dombrowski said. "It took Infante awhile a get comfortable when he came here. He made a lot of errors he wouldn't normally make. Jhonny does a real solid job for us. You get a routine ground ball, throw to first. Two outs in the ninth inning, 3-2 lead, man on third base, there's not anybody in the league you'd prefer to have a ground ball hit to than Jhonny Peralta.
"He's also a good offensive shortstop. He did not have a good offensive year last year. I think he will bounce back. Even losing some extra weight (18 pounds) we had him work on some drills the second half of last year with foot quickness. I think he moved better in the second half. With the weight loss, I think he'll have better range, but he's never going to have great range.''
Tigers' Dave Dombrowski: Bruce Rondon must win closer job in camp
Detroit Free Press | Feb 6