Tigers Spring Training Report

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

LAKELAND, Fla. (AP) -- Except for one small piece of the puzzle, Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland might as well post a "Not Hiring" sign on the clubhouse door.
The Tigers return nearly everyone from a team that won 95 games last season and reached the World Series.
There might be a spot for a utility player, although Leyland said the spot pretty much already has been claimed. Other than that, Leyland only is looking for a relief pitcher, preferably a left-hander who can help set up right-handers Todd Jones and Joel Zumaya.
As the Tigers open their exhibition season at home on Tuesday against Florida Southern, Leyland said every one of his candidates would get some work, and most of the leading candidates will pitch in the opener.
"Everybody's going to get a look," Leyland said. "I'll try to get everybody out early. Somebody might feel cheated, but we'll get it set up."
Among the candidates are Joey Eischen and Edward Campusano; Felix Heredia, who pitched in 56 games for Leyland's world champion Florida Marlins in 1997; Tim Byrdak; Bobby Seay, the only one of the bunch to have pitched for the Tigers last season; and Virgil Vazquez.
Each comes with flaws, but Campusano might be the most intriguing. He had 25 saves in 44 games in the minors last year. If he doesn't stick with the Tigers out of spring training, he will have to be offered back to his old team, the Chicago Cubs.
Campusano, though, might be a year away to make a team that needs to replace left-handed reliever Jamie Walker, who signed as a free agent with the Baltimore Orioles.
Eischen, 36, appeared in 22 games for the Washington Nationals last season before being shut down with a torn rotator cuff.
"I don't want a handout, I just want my chance," Eischen said. "I can help this team win. They need another piece to the puzzle, and I can be that piece."
Heredia was a workhorse for several teams before suffering shoulder tendinitis. He pitched in 47 games for the New York Yankees in 2004, but mostly has been on the shelf since.
Seay was on the opening day roster for the Tigers last year, but didn't last long.


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