Tigers Inside Pitch: 8/29

The Tigers were hopeful that Roman Colon would have his first start as a Tiger against the Cleveland Indians, but then Jeremy Bonderman made a miraculous comeback, keeping Colon out. But may he steal someone else's start instead? Plus, what is Curtis Granderson's immediate future with the team?

RHP Roman Colon would have started Monday if RHP Jeremy Bonderman hadn't been able to make it, but he won't make his long-planned first start for Detroit in place of RHP Sean Douglass on Thursday in Chicago.

Douglas was roughed up for seven runs and nine hits Saturday in a little more than three innings to bump his ERA to 9.10 for his last six starts. But Manager Alan Trammell said he'll stick with Douglass, who did a good job before that, against the White Sox.

Trammell and pitching coach Bob Cluck have talked ever since Detroit obtained Colon from Atlanta at the end of July about giving the hard-thrower a shot at starting, since his numbers in that role are vastly superior to his relief figures.

Colon relieved Douglas on Saturday night and gave up one run in 3 1/3 innings. He struck out five and the run he gave up was because of consecutive wild pitches. He's given up a chunk of home runs, both in Atlanta and Detroit, but has turned in two outstanding long relief jobs to show his potential.

Bonderman was struck above the right wrist by a line drive in his last start and it initially was feared he might have broken it and would at least have to skip his Monday start.

But he threw off flat ground Friday with no problem and threw a limited bullpen session off the mound Saturday, seemingly showing no ill effects to cement his continuation in the rotation.

The Tigers were planning to have LHP Mike Maroth and RHP Jason Johnson complete the series with the Indians. Douglass will open against the White Sox with LHP Nate Robertson following before the rotation turns over again. Detroit's bullpen has been overworked recently and part of Trammell's thinking in keeping Colon in relief is that he could come in and throw 4-5 innings and give everybody else a break.

Trammell has been working to find ways to get hot-hitting 1B Carlos Pena into the lineup and he's come up with kind of a rotation to do it.

Pena doesn't play against left-handers but otherwise Trammell is mixing and matching 1B Chris Shelton, DH Dmitri Young, OF Craig Monroe and OF Curtis Granderson to give one of them a rest and get a hot bat into the lineup. SS Carlos Guillen could return to the roster around Labor Day but may not return to the club until it returns home Sept. 5.

--OF Curtis Granderson is pressing his case for inclusion in Detroit's 2006 plans.

Granderson collected three hits Friday night in Detroit's 9-8 loss at Boston, one a controversial two-run home run down the right field line. It appeared foul to the first base umpire, but his crewmates saw it curve behind the foul pole and reversed the call, making it a home run.

Granderson did well during a September cameo last year, got off to a slow start in Triple-A this year but was hitting much better when he got called up after LF Rondell White suffered a season-ending shoulder injury. He had been brought up briefly by Detroit earlier this year.

The earlier trials with the Tigers seemed to help relax Granderson for this call-up. He's not as ground-eating as CF Nook Logan, but he's better than average defensively and has shown he can handle all three outfield positions at the major league level.

Granderson is one of six Detroit players selected to play for the Mesa Solar Sox of the Arizona Fall League.

--So much for the idea of shifting LHP Mike Maroth so he could pitch against the Oakland A's.

Oakland pounded Maroth for the most runs he's allowed this year, eight, and 10 hits in dealing Detroit an 11-1 defeat.

"I did everything you don't want to do as a pitcher," Maroth said. "I fell behind a lot of hitters. I'd get ahead 0-2 and all of a sudden I'd start falling behind and make it a 3-2 count. I just didn't have it going today, that's for sure. I just struggled with my command."

Maroth lasted just 3 2/3 innings and fell below .500 again (11-12) as his three-game winning streak came to an end.

Manager Alan Trammell had moved Maroth ahead of RHP Jason Johnson in the rotation (a move he could make because they both worked a doubleheader two starts ago) so he could pitch against Oakland and avoid having to work Friday in Fenway Park.

--RHP Jason Johnson didn't have much other than his fastball Friday night and it eventually cost him in Detroit's 9-8 loss at Boston.

Johnson bounced a curveball in the dirt in the sixth to allow the tie-breaking run to score in what was then a 5-5 game. It was a wild pitch and the Red Sox went on to score three more runs in the innings as Johnson was charged with all nine Boston runs.

His breaking balls and changeup weren't doing much, and the Red Sox finally caught up with his fastball.

--RHP Jeremy Bonderman continued to make progress in his recovery from being hit above the right wrist by a line drive. He was expected to start Monday, as scheduled.

--C Ivan Rodriguez got a day off Thursday under manager Alan Trammell's stricter rest policy.

Trammell also wants to get backup C Vance Wilson more playing time, although he went hitless and is now batting the same .181 he was when Rodriguez began serving his four-game suspension three weeks ago.

Rodriguez had badgered Trammell into playing him more in day games that follow night contests, but the manager is more firm in resting him in those situations now.

--RHP Joel Zumaya was scratched from a scheduled start Thursday for Toledo because he didn't feel right.

There has been some speculation Detroit would bring up Zumaya, who entered last week as the minor league strikeout leader, for some September starts, but that is seen as unlikely since it would require the Tigers to put him on their 40-man roster, something they won't be required to do until after next season.

--LF Rondell White is finished for the season.

White learned Wednesday what was thought to be a dislocated left shoulder is really a torn rotator cuff that will require surgery. MRI results conducted by Cincinnati Reds team physician Dr. Tim Kremchek confirmed the diagnosis.

"I'm disappointed," White said. "I hoped to come back, but now I'm out for the season."

White was originally thought to have separated his shoulder attempting a diving catch but regaining arm motion was not going as well as hoped.

"They said it sometimes takes 5-6 months of rehab," White said, "but it's not my throwing arm, so it might be faster for me. Some people heal faster than others, too."

White was cheered by a phone call from team owner Mike Ilitch.

"He said he appreciated what I'd done for the young guys," White said, "and that he hoped I'd be back, and that he appreciates how we're playing this year. So that lifted my spirits."

BY THE NUMBERS: 26 -- Multi-hit games by 2B Placido Polanco of the 55 he had played for Detroit through Sunday since being obtained by the Tigers from the Phillies in June.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "What's really important is that he pitches somewhere a couple of times, so he can go home feeling he's 100 percent healthy. I don't care where it happens, whether it's here in a game, in a simulated game or in the instructional league. Just so he goes home and knows there's no problem. We want him going home symptom-free." -- Pitching coach Bob Cluck of the Tigers on what's ahead for prized young RHP Justin Verlander, who is scheduled to throw off a mound this week after more than two weeks of rest for a tired arm.

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