Furcal Closer to Activation; Will He Replace Green, or DeWitt?

Hall of Fame manager Sparky Anderson visits with Joe Torre and Jim Leyland before today's game.

There is nothing like being in the midst of baseball legends.  Sparky Anderson is here at the park today visiting the Tigers, and he took time to chat with Joe Torre and Jim Leyland.  The trio has a combined 5,900 managerial wins, 13 pennants, and eight World Series titles.

Here are the highlights of Torre's pregame meeting with reporters:

  • Rafael Furcal completed his rehabilitation game this morning in Glendale, Arizona, under the watchful eye of trainer Stan Conte.  Furcal had five at-bats, and did everything asked of him with no problems.  He will be reevaluated tomorrow, and will either be activated tomorrow or Tuesday.
  • To create room on the roster for Furcal, an infielder will have to go.  The obvious move is to designate Nick Green for assignment, but Torre noted the club has two choices: Green, or optioning Blake DeWitt.  When asked if it would be tough to send down the club's opening day second baseman, Torre said, "It's always tough to be sent down," but also said a decision has not yet been made. 
  • Torre said he didn't think Green had any long term effects from getting hit by a pitch on the foot last night.
  • Torre sees no difference in Matt Kemp's approach at the plate whether he's hitting second or fourth.  Kemp is hitting .270/.375/.622 in 88 plate appearances hitting second, and .281/.339/.351 in 62 plate appearances batting cleanup.  Torre did note that Kemp has simply been fighting himself at the plate, and that without Ethier in the lineup Torre likes Kemp hitting behind Manny Ramirez to give Kemp more freedom to run on the bases.
  • Ethier is progressing faster than thought, and has been hitting off a tee.  Torre said he will be evaluated in a week to see where he's at.  Ethier is eligible to be activated next Sunday, for the final game of the series in Coors Field.
  • The only rotation decision to be made for the upcoming week is when to start the fifth starter.  By skipping the slot Monday, the natural order would be for (presumably) Carlos Monasterios to pitch Saturday, May 29, but Torre said he might have the fifth starter pitch Friday to give Hiroki Kuroda an extra day of rest.
  • Torre praised tonight's starter, John Ely, for being able to throw strikes and stay ahead in the count.  Torre noted Ely isn't just throwing hittable strikes, and that he is able to hit specific targets, and likened Ely's ability to throw strikes on the outer third of the plate to Bruce Sutter.
  • Torre likes the progression of Xavier Paul, who has improved greatly since the manager first saw him in 2008.  Torre praised Paul's base stealing ability, and thinks his quick hands (he called Paul "deadly inside") will translate into home runs at the big league level.
  • Paul has an easier time than DeWitt did last season, when he was optioned to Triple A six different times, because Paul is getting playing time while in the majors, which wasn't the case with DeWitt last season.  "Blake DeWitt last season, we used his experience against him, and the fact that he was mature to handle [getting sent down]," Torre said, "he wasn't going to get bent out of shape emotionally."

We will find out in a day or three if DeWitt will have something to not get bent out of shape about again.

Game Time: 4:10pm

TV:  Fox

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