Injury News – The Bad: Suspicions began to increase the longer it took for several pitchers to get back on the mound and into game action, and the worse has come true for three young Tiger hurlers. Left-hander Charlie Furbush and right-hander Eric Crichton have both seen their early season elbow strains turn into season-ending elbow surgery. Both players recently went under the knife for Tommy John surgery to repair a torn UCL in their throwing arms. As with all procedures of this nature, don't expect to see them back in game action until the second half of next season at the earliest. Reliever PJ Finigan had his long road back from surgery delayed after he was forced to go back under the knife for further work on his ailing elbow. Finigan had originally been slated to rejoin a full-season team sometime this month, but his most recent surgery will likely sideline him for the rest of 2008.
Injury News – Luke Warm: It's not good. It's not bad. It's just about right. At least that's what we hope the case may be for three other players completing their own comeback from surgery. Shortstop Brent Dlugach is still working through his rehab with an eye towards getting back on the field this summer. There is currently no timetable for his return to game action, but signs are positive right now that his right shoulder is healing well. Both Zach Piccola and Orlando Perdomo are also still working through their respective rehabs. Piccola is still expected to possibly join a roster late this year if things go well, while Perdomo's future is far more uncertain. After already undergoing two operations on his elbow, Orlando is still not pain free.
Injury News – The Good: After all that, there is some good news on the injury front. Highly talented right-hander Luke Putkonen is back on the mound after undergoing what was described as minor shoulder surgery prior to the season. Some rumblings indicate he's looked pretty good on the hill, and could be ready to join one of the short-season teams later this month. Also eying a return to competitive action is lefty Erik Averill. Averill sat out the entire 2007 season after having Tommy John surgery, and he is back on the mound in extended spring training, waiting for his chance this summer.
Missing Player Report: For those crazy people like me out there, its impossible not to notice absences from the DSL and VSL rosters. In the VSL, catcher Raul Leiva is still working out at the Tigers' academy in country, but is currently on the inactive list while Wilfredo Hoyer, Luis Sanz, and Gilbert Gomez all get their hand at the catching duties for the struggling VSL tigers. Leiva could be activated later this year. Also missing from the VSL roster is right-hander Carlos Cachutt, who is currently out due to an arm injury. No additional details were available on the nature of Cachutt's woes. On the DSL front, Isidro Montesino is absent after his release from the organization. Montesino had struggled through three seasons in the Dominican without much progress. Right-hander Sergio Collado won't be taking the mound any time soon, as he serves a 50-game suspension after testing positive for a banned substance.
Pitchers Released: The Tigers recently released veteran left-hander Jon Connolly, and right-hander Gabriel Benitez. Connolly had returned to the organization last year, and re-signed with the club in the offseason. Working at both Toledo and Erie this year, Jon had struggled to gain any consistency on the mound, and was released to make room for Ben Fritz as he came off the Erie disabled list. Benitez was signed as a free agent prior to last season, and was viewed as a project by the organization. Coming off numerous injuries, Benitez had tons of raw arm strength, but lacked consistent mechanics and control. After nearly a year and a half working with him and little progress, the organization opted to cut bait.
Four New Signees on DSL Roster: Led by big left-hander (Ariel) Kelvin Medina, the Tigers have signed five new players for the DSL season. Joining him on the mound is 6-foot-2 right-hander Alvin Acosta. The 17-year old Acosta has promising stuff along with good poise and pitchability for someone his age. On the infield, shortstop Samuel Ortiz and third baseman Ernesto Martes join the organization. Martes is a solidly built corner infielder with solid raw power and reasonable hands in the field. Lastly, the DSL squad added outfielder Robinson Figueroa. The speedy 18-year old has surprising defensive abilities and some potential with the bat.
Mark Anderson is TigsTown's Managing Editor and feature Minor League writer. He can be reached at Mark@TigsTown.com.