Curtis Granderson never really recovered from a broken hand at the start of last season, and the Detroit Tigers never fulfilled their potential.
With Granderson healthy, Tigers are predicting a rebound.
“He’s a catalyst for our offence,” utility player Ryan Raburn said in Lakeland, Fla. “He gets everything started. When he gets on base, he scores runs.”
The Tigers started 2008 with great expectations and about a US$139 million payroll. But Granderson broke his hand during spring training and it was all downhill from there. Detroit started the season 8-13 on its way to finishing 74-88, worst in the AL Central.
Granderson finished with a .280 batting average and an AL-best 13 triples. But the injury slowed him throughout the season.
“The hand didn’t bother me, but everything else did,” Granderson said. “My legs weren’t there and the timing just wasn’t there. When you miss the beginning of the season, it’s like you’re playing catch-up the rest of the way. I needed another spring training, really.”
The hand injury is completely behind him now, and Granderson is hoping for something more akin to his 2007: a .302 batting average with 38 doubles, 23 triples, 23 homers, 74 RBIs and 26-of-27 on stolen-base attempts in 2007.
“He looks very good,” manager Jim Leyland said. “With a (hand injury), it seems like you’re not totally right the rest of the year. You probably don’t heal until the off-season.”
Yankees captain Derek Jeter, meanwhile, has a sore right hamstring and expects to resume running Monday.
Jeter took part in all drills Sunday except a running program.
“It’s no big deal,” Jeter said in Tampa, Fla. “It’s really not an issue.”
Jeter said his hamstring soreness will not affect his training for next month’s World Baseball Classic. The shortstop is on the United States team.
“It’s not a pull. It’s not a strain,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “It’s a little sore. Obviously we’re going to watch him and make sure he’s ready.”
Girardi plans to sit down with Jeter before he departs for the WBC next week.
“We will talk and make sure he’s healthy,” Girardi said. “It’s awful early to be playing meaningful games. Is his hamstring bad? No. It does concern me because the last thing we want is some player getting hurt during the WBC because that affects our whole season.”
Left-hander Odalis Perez hasn’t thrown a pitch yet for the Washington Nationals this spring.
Not because he’s injured.
He was a no-show at the Nationals’ training camp in Viera, Fla., the last day for players to report without facing the possibility of disciplinary action.
Perez has expressed his dissatisfaction with his contract since he gave his agent the OK to sign a non-guaranteed minor league deal with Washington on Feb. 5 that would pay him $850,000 if he makes the team, the same stipulation he faced last year.
General manager Jim Bowden hasn’t yet spoken with Perez, and doesn’t know if he’ll show.
“He’s not returned my calls, he’s not returned (manager) Manny’s (Acta) calls and he hasn’t returned his agent’s calls, so we’re waiting to hear back from him,” Bowden said. “We’re looking at all of our options. We’re taking the position that we have an agreement with the player and we’re expecting the player to honour the agreement. But we’d like to talk to him first, so we’re going to wait until he calls us back and then address the other options at that point.”
Houston Astros non-roster invitee Toby Hall will have surgery on his right shoulder and will be out four months.
Hall, a catcher, hurt his shoulder during batting practice earlier in the week in Kissimmee, Fla., and aggravated a previous injury. Houston said Sunday an MRI showed a torn labrum.
Hall will not be able to throw for four months after the surgery and the Astros said they were proceeding to void his minor league contract, but have given him the option of receiving treatment from the medical staff until the surgery is scheduled.
At Goodyear, Ariz., the Cleveland Indians had a scare when outfielders Grady Sizemore and Shin-Shoo Choo collided while chasing a ball in right-centre during a drill.
Choo was escorted from the field by a trainer and had his right knee examined before returning for batting practice about 30 minutes later. He suffered only a bruise and felt lucky not to be more seriously hurt.
“We hit knees. I was really scared,” said Choo, Cleveland’s starting right fielder who will leave camp Tuesday to play for South Korea in the World Baseball Classic.
Sizemore, a high school football star who was recruited to play at Washington, was barely fazed.
“I guess Choo forgot I was a linebacker,” he joked.
Indians manager Eric Wedge was relieved Choo was OK.
“He was probably more upset when he saw Grady standing over him like Jack Tatum,” he said.