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Bonderman to start opening day

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Bonderman to start opening day

Postby Dannomyte » Sun Mar 18, 2007 3:14 pm

Bonderman will start opener

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Jeremy Bonderman didn't expect it.

Not this year. Not in this pitching rotation.

"So many guys on this team could start on opening day and deserve to start opening day," Bonderman said Saturday, just after manager Jim Leyland named him as the Detroit Tigers' opening day starter. "Kenny deserves it as much as anybody, I think."

Kenny is Kenny Rogers, the 42-year-old veteran and acknowledged staff leader. He was Leyland's opening day choice last year, and he followed a 17-8 season with a brilliant postseason.

But it will be Bonderman, not Rogers, who will take the mound for the Tigers against Toronto on April 2 at Comerica Park. Rogers will pitch the second game of the season, followed in the rotation by Justin Verlander, Nate Robertson and Mike Maroth.

"It's a big deal," said the 24-year-old Bonderman, who started for the Tigers on opening day 2005 (he beat Kansas City 11-2, allowing one run in six innings), then started the second game last season. "For me, it's like an honor more than anything."

While Leyland wouldn't go into detail about how he made his decision, a look at the statistics might help. The Blue Jays, with a lineup dominated by right-handed hitters, had a 59-56 record last year when facing a right-handed starter and were 28-19 when against lefties.

The left-handed Rogers gave up five runs in 3 2/3 innings the only time he faced Toronto in 2006; the right-handed Bonderman had a 1.50 ERA in his two starts against the Jays.

Leyland wants Rogers pitching in between Bonderman and Verlander, because of contrasting styles. By starting Bonderman rather than Rogers in the opener, he'll be able to throw both his right-handers in the three-game opening series, and also in the four-game series the Tigers play in Toronto the following week.

Leyland made his announcement just after Bonderman had pitched four innings against the Blue Jays in an 8-6 Tiger win. While he called the rotation order "probable," Leyland then said it's the order he plans to use as long as all his starters remain healthy.

While Bonderman faced the Blue Jays' regular lineup Saturday, allowing five runs on five hits, it wasn't really an opening day preview. Bonderman threw more changeups and fewer sliders than he normally would, and his pitching pattern wasn't what he would use in a regular-season game.

"Most of these guys have seen me the last four years, and they know what I throw, so it probably doesn't matter," Bonderman said. "But I had a lot of two-strike counts where I threw pitches I would never throw."

Opening day does matter to Bonderman, but not as much as it did two years ago. That spring, he was open about wanting to be seen as the Tigers' No. 1 starter.

Now, on this staff, it's different.

"It wouldn't have hurt my feelings (if Rogers started the opener)," Bonderman said. "In this rotation, we have four guys who could be the top guy in any rotation, in my opinion."

Gary Sheffield returned to the Tiger lineup Saturday, after missing the last four days because of an arbitration hearing involving his ex-agent, Scott Boras.

Sheffield went 2-for-4, but one hit was a wind-carried fly ball and the other was a jam-shot over shortstop.

"He's not himself swinging right now, by any means," Leyland said. "But he will be."

Sheffield said he doesn't expect to miss any more time this spring, and vowed that he'll be ready by opening day.

http://www.mlive.com/tigers/stories/ind ... thispage=1
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Postby moochman » Mon Mar 19, 2007 10:35 am

What a difference a year makes! Last year I had so many questions about the rotation, now it seems set in stone. I have no problem with Bonderman starting, wouldn't have had a problem with Rogers starting, too.
In fact prefer he over Bonderman slightly. Give Jeremy another year to get himself more established. Every win counts more now, so we cannot waste one for someone being nervous.
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Postby ScarletP » Tue Mar 20, 2007 8:43 am

From Knobler:

Why Bonderman? Why not?
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Yes, I came to spring training this year expecting that Kenny Rogers would be the Tigers' opening day starter. Jeremy Bonderman came to spring training thinking the same thing.

But after Jim Leyland said he plans to start Bonderman on April 2 against the Blue Jays, I thought about it some more. Leyland wouldn't go deep into his reasons for the decision, but maybe he didn't have to.

Leyland said earlier this spring that the early-season matchups would determine the order of his rotation, and also that he doesn't want his only two right-handers, Bonderman and Justin Verlander, pitching back-to-back.

Well, the Tigers play the Blue Jays on opening day, and also in a 4-game series the following week in Toronto. The Blue Jay lineup is dominated by right-handers, and last year the Jays were much better when the opponent started a lefty. Rogers pitched poorly in his one start against them. Bonderman pitched well in his two.

If Rogers starts the opener, and if Bonderman and Verlander don't pitch back-to-back, that means the Tigers would pitch lefties in four of those seven early-season meetings with the Jays. This way, the two right-handers make four of the seven starts.

Many managers wouldn't worry about things like that, and would give the opening day start to the veteran who has ``earned it'' more. Leyland is going the other way, with the full knowledge that Rogers is going to go along with whatever this manager wants to do.


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Postby Dannomyte » Tue Mar 20, 2007 11:37 am

Gotta love the skipper playing the match-ups from day 1!
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Postby sammyj1404 » Mon Mar 26, 2007 8:01 pm

im pumped for this season. after verlander and roger's season last year, and they still arent starting opening day!?!?! thats gotta be either a really good sign for tigers pitching or a really bad sign for verlander and rogers
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Postby mcqfesijiba » Sat Mar 31, 2007 2:38 pm

Hopefully this is the year Bonderman becomes the pitcher he is truly capable of. The loss of Rogers for at least half the year hurts no matter how you look at it.
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