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Detroit Tigers Notes And Quotes 5-18-11

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–RHP Joaquin Benoit apparently is being given a sabbatical from his duties as Detroit’s setup man. Manager Jim Leyland danced around the question in his pregame media session Tuesday, but on his pregame radio show with broadcaster Dan Dickerson, he said Benoit was no longer the setup man. He did not elaborate on how Benoit would be used nor which pitcher would replace him in front of closer Jose Valverde. Benoit entered a 1-1 game Monday night and gave up three consecutive hits plus two sacrifice flies as Toronto defeated Detroit 4-2. Benoit has allowed 14 runs (12 earned) in his last six appearances.

–LF Andy Dirks was penciled in for his second consecutive start in manager Jim Leyland’s rained-out lineup. Dirks was the latest No. 2 hitter, too, with the former occupant, 2B Scott Sizemore, dropping down to eighth. A compliment for the left-handed-hitting Dirks — his start was to be against LHP Jesse Litsch. Dirks walked in his first big-league plate appearance and collected his first hit, a ground single to left, in his second. “He did just fine, and I have no problem running him out there again,” Leyland said. Dirks was drafted in the eighth round by Detroit out of Wichita State in 2008.

–RHP Rick Porcello not only got rained out of his start against Toronto on Tuesday, but he also got rained out of his next start, period. Instead of giving all of his starters extra rest, manager Jim Leyland decided to skip over Porcello entirely. It worked before — Porcello came out and won with nine days off. Leyland decided to have LHP Phil Coke, already in Boston, and RHP Justin Verlander work in Boston as scheduled.

–RF Magglio Ordonez was scheduled to get his weak right ankle looked at in Los Angeles, but the Tigers had not seen the results. Ordonez was being examined by Dr. Phillip Kwong, who operated on Ordonez’s fractured ankle last year. The Tigers put Ordonez on the disabled list retroactive to May 11 when he reported continuing ankle weakness. Ordonez was hitting .231 with one run and four RBI in seven games prior to being put on the DL but overall was only at .172 with one home run and five RBI.

–RHP Justin Verlander is giving use of his Comerica Park suite to local veterans who have suffered injuries in Iraq or Afghanistan and their families. The suite has been vacant when Verlander pitches as a concession to superstition. “Thanks to the Tigers organization and Mr. (Mike) Ilitch, I have the opportunity to have a suite here at the ballpark,” Verlander said. “And the first time I had the opportunity to use the suite, my girlfriend Emily did. It was one of my first starts here at home, and it didn’t go very well. So me and Emily, both being somewhat superstitious, decided that that’s never going to happen again. The suite is not going to be used on my start days.”

GM Dave Dombrowski said, “He wants to commend and congratulate and honor the sacrifice and dedication that all of our veterans have shown, recently returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. And for everything that they do for our country, he’s here to thank them through this program.”

The suite holds some 18 people. The injured veterans come from the John D. Dingell Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Detroit, and the Veterans Affairs Ann Arbor Healthcare System, on the recommendation from officials at both facilities.

–2B Scott Sizemore got dropped down to eighth in the batting order, at least for Detroit’s rained-out game against Toronto. The move was made because manager Jim Leyland wanted LF Andy Dirks batting second, where Sizemore normally is slotted. The games in Boston and Pittsburgh should give an indication how permanent the move will be.

BY THE NUMBERS
21.60 — RHP Joaquin Benoit’s ERA over his last six appearances. He’s allowed 12 earned runs in five innings, with 16 hits and four walks in that time.

QUOTE TO NOTE
“I don’t know what he’s going to do, but you just put him out there and let him play. He got called up for a reason. He’s doing well, and he’s going to get to play. I play everybody. I think he’ll be a good player for us.” — Manager Jim Leyland, on giving rookie OF Andy Dirks his first major league start.

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