TigsTown MLN: Hannahan Gets His Shot

The big news of course yesterday was when the Tigers announced that Dmitri Young would be returning to the disabled list and in his place, Jack Hannahan will get his first taste of big league action. It's been a long time coming for Hannahan. Plus, pitching shake-ups all over the organization.

When the Tigers snagged Jack Hannahan in the third round of the 2001 amateur draft, he was expected to move quickly. In '02, he made it all the way up to Double-A Erie and appeared to be on the fast track to Detroit.

Four years later, he's finally made the next two steps.

It took him the end of '02, plus all of 2003 and much of '04 just to adjust to the level of pitching he was facing, and even then, he didn't have a great year, with an OPS of just .763 in what is far and away a hitter's park. The lone bright spot was that Hannahan's walk rates had increased notably (53 walks to 60 strikeouts, in just 374 at bats).

In '05 Hannahan battled injuries and struggled, plus at his age, he started to come to the realization that he was likely no longer the club's future third baseman, and that it was time to look at other options. But rather than pout, Hannahan went to work, and started taking infield at second base, first base, and the outfield.

With Hannahan's strong start to '06 (.282/.391/.412), Hannahan has gone out and shown that he can hit, albeit not well enough to be an everyday player. The Tigers, who have been in need a good left-handed bat since day one, decided to call on Hannahan, giving him the opportunity to show what he has, even though Alexis Gomez had a solid go of it when he had his shot the first time Young was injured.

Hannahan will likely get some work at the corner infield spots, as well as occasionally working as the team's designated hitter, especially against right handed pitchers, whom Marcus Thames often struggles against.

Unfortunately for Hannahan though, this may be his only shot in Detroit. The ‘Hens have another of other bats (Josh Phelps, Ryan Ludwick) who could produce more in Detroit, and while Hannahan's versatility is a positive, the Tigers have backups already across the infield, so his presence isn't necessary defensively.

In other news, a lot of starting rotations have gotten a shake up in the past few weeks.

Lakeland has removed Josh Rainwater and Cristhian Martinez from their rotation, adding Andrew Kown and Lance Davis. Rainwater has since been moved back to West Michigan's bullpen, while Martinez is working in extended spring after experiencing some soreness, which is not uncommon for a pitcher coming back from Tommy John surgery. Davis was one of the veterans that started the year in Toledo, while Kown was mysteriously returned to West Michigan's bullpen, only to get bumped up after a blazing start.

In Erie, the club moved out Jeremy Johnson after he struggled in his first handful of starts, but the core four remain the same (Humberto Sanchez, Nate Bumstead, Preston Larrison and Virgil Vasquez). Due to doubleheaders, both Bobby Jones and Eulogio de la Cruz have made starts in the past couple weeks, but expect Jones to take the reigns as the starter, as de la Cruz is better off continuing to improve in the ‘pen, where he'll be pitching long term anyway.

Finally, with the ‘Hens, injury concerns and needs on the other clubs have shaken some things up, but the rotation looks to be settled now, at least for the immediate future. After a strong six week cameo, Jordan Tata will get back into the every fifth day mode of a rotation, as the Tigers feel that's where he's best long term. Roman Colon made a couple of starts, but with him moving up to Detroit, he's back out obviously. Zach Miner, Wil Ledezma, Colby Lewis and Chad Durbin will round out the rotation for the coming weeks.

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