A look at the injury front brings to mind four pitchers that are all looking to get back to game action on a regular basis, and in some cases, get back to full-season action. Right-hander Gary Perinar and left-hander Macay McBride are both continuing to work on building arm strength and gaining consistency with their mechanics after Tommy John surgery. Neither player has a timeline for making their 2009 season debut at this time, but it may be a reasonable expectation that they could see action sometime in June.
Erie reliever Brendan Wise's shoulder injury doesn't appear to be too serious at this time; described as just ‘general soreness.' Though there are always flags going off in the back of your mind when you hear of shoulder issues, until the has a setback or something shows up on an MRI, we can be optimistic that Wise may return to the Erie bullpen as soon as any lingering pain and/or soreness have dissipated.
The biggest news on the injury front is the progress of right-hander Jeff Gerbe. A spring training sensation in 2008, Gerbe was quickly lost for the year due to shoulder surgery. He returned to the mound on Thursday in game action at Tiger Town, firing one inning of relief. His fastball reached 90 mph on several occasions and he averaged 89 over his lone inning of work. Gerbe also mixed in his slider and change-up with both showed promise. Though his velocity is not where it was pre-surgery, he is still in the process of building arm strength and getting everything back.
The next step for Gerbe will be to work two innings on Monday, and if all goes well, he'll jump into a five-man rotation. He will likely start his rotation work in EST, but if a spot opens up anywhere from West Michigan to Erie, he could get pushed back to full-season ball quickly.
Two pitchers that were surprisingly kept in EST to start the year were right-handers Jay Sborz and Noah Krol. Though Sborz has been promoted to the Erie bullpen to replace the injured Brendan Wise, Krol still remains on the back fields in Lakeland. His mission is simply to gain consistency with his fastball-slider combination; both in terms of pitch quality and pitch command. Without that, Krol will struggle to get outs, and the Tigers are trying to make sure he can be sent to a full-season club and put in a position to succeed, rather than setup to potentially fail.
With ten new Latin American pitchers in camp, some are bound to impress right off the bat. Tiger Town Pitching Coordinator Greg Sabat indicated that there's a lot of raw pitchers in EST, but ‘there is a lot of arm strength, and some real talent here.' One that's stood out in particular is righty Ramon Lebron. Known for his arm strength in the DSL, Lebron has seen another jump in his velocity, working consistently from 95-97 this month.
Two other pitchers that have stood out with their raw arm strength are Michael Torreabla and Jose Diaz. Both have impressed with their velocity, but have also shown an ability to work within the strike zone and adjust quickly.
Left-hander Rayni Guichardo has shown team personnel an impressive feel for pitching; a advanced feel far exceeding his age and experience level. Though his velocity is still below average, there is optimism that he will see an increase throughout the summer as he continues to work rigorously with the training staff in Lakeland. The hope is for Guichardo to follow a similar path to that of right-hander Luis Sanz, who has filled out his lanky frame and added velocity that could make him a far more interesting prospect.
As we draw nearer to the start of the short seasons, we will likely begin to hear more about many of these players and others in EST. Keep an eye out as TigsTown looks to bring you more in-depth coverage from inside Tigers' extended spring training.