Found February 28, 2012 on
Fox Sports Detroit:
Lakeland, Fla. -- The baseball gods who control injuries owe Clete Thomas good health for the rest of his career.
Thomas, 28, had to have ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction surgery (Tommy John) in 2008 and then underwent microfracture surgery on his left knee in 2010.
Thomas played 40 games for the Tigers in 2008, batting .284 with one home run and nine RBIs. He then played in 102 games with the big league club in 2009, batting .240 with seven home runs and 39 RBIs.
But the knee injury completely derailed his major league career at that point.
Last season Thomas was mostly healthy, playing 113 games with Triple-A Toledo, batting .251 with 12 home runs and 53 RBIs. He also had 20 stolen bases.
Manager Jim Leyland did not forget about Thomas. He even mentioned his name during Prince Fielder's introductory news conference when he was talking about the possible lineup for the upcoming season.
"I like him a lot, still do," Leyland said. "He's fought through some injuries for a period of time and came back.
"This spring he's showing no signs of any side effects of past injuries. He looks really good right now.
"He's a very athletic guy, very good tools guy -- power, speed, good outfielder. My reports basically were that he started to come on at the end pretty good. Sometimes it takes time to get over those injuries."
Thomas, the Tigers' sixth-round pick in the June 2005 draft, said he feels great this spring.
"Yeah, 100 percent," Thomas said. "Had a good year last year coming off the knee surgery and this year it feels even better, so Im ready to go."
Thomas admits it was nice to hear that the organization didn't forget about him while he was trying to come back from his injuries.
"It always feels good to know that youre on their mind and they havent forgot about you. That hes going to be there watching and know that he still thinks that I could help the team, because I can," Thomas said.
This season Thomas is out of options so it may come down to him and Andy Dirks for a reserve outfield spot.
Dirks had 19 stolen bases with Double-A Erie in 2010 so he has some speed as well. But Leyland indicated speed would not be a decisive factor.
"But if you're asking if he's in competition, you'd certainly have to consider him," Leyland added.
Thomas, like many of the players not guaranteed a roster spot, said he can't let himself think about making the team.
"I just try to go out there and play and let that speak for itself and try not to worry much about that because it just puts extra stress on you that you dont need," Thomas said.
Thomas is excited about the prospect of being on the big league club again, especially with the focus on not only getting into the playoffs, but getting to the World Series.
"Of course you want to be part of a good team, a playoff team, win a ring," Thomas said. "Its part of everybodys goals and dreams to do that, so of course thats a great goal."
Joaquin Benoit, who did not throw as scheduled two days ago due to a stiff neck, is feeling much better.
"I'm throwing batting practice today," Benoit said before Tuesday morning's workout. "So it's basically coming down. Still a little bit but not a big deal."
Florida Southern game
The Tigers finally get to start playing games when they host Florida Southern in their annual game Friday.
Leyland, who said he has the pitching set through late May, early June with the exception of the fifth starter, said Andy Oliver, Drew Smyly and Casey Crosby would all pitch in the game.
"I'm gonna play the big guys one at-bat and then pull them out of there," Leyland said. "So that way the kids can say they saw (Miguel) Cabrera."
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AROUND THE WEB
Manager Jim Leyland already had a good reason to like new reliever Collin Balester.
"He married a girl from Perrysburg, Ohio, my hometown," Leyland said. "So he can't be all bad."
Balester agreed it was unusual that his wife Ashley already had that connection with his new manager.
"She went to Ohio State and I met her when I was playing in Columbus...
This is a very hard article to write on the Detroit Tigers simply because there are so few DONTs on their Major League roster. This off-season they spent some big money signing Prince Fielder and have been in the discussion regarding some high profile international players. Let’s look at who you should draft and who you should let drift by.
Don’t expect anything less than an...
LAKELAND, Fla. -- If you're visiting the Tigers at their spring training home and you can't locate Jose Valverde, all you have to do is close your eyes and listen.
You're sure to hear the voluble Dominican Republic native first, even though the 6-foot-4 Valverde is not hard to spot.
As good a season as AL MVP and Cy Young winner Justin Verlander had, it probably wouldn...
(Eds: Updates.) Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland has a pretty good idea who his four top starters are going to be this season.
Cy Young winner Justin Verlander, of course. Rick Porcello, Max Scherzer and Doug Fister sure seem likely to make the cut, too.
That leaves one spot, but don't ask Leyland about it. He bristled when he was asked about it Wednesday.
Delmon Young had 112 RBI's in 2010 (Twins)
** Writer’s Note ** – This article is the first of what I will call My “Player Predictions Preview”. Each article will take a different Tiger who will be on the roster out of Spring Training and attempt to predict their season. Obviously not all 25 spots are shoe ins at this point in time, so expect those last bullpen spots,...
Clete Thomas can't point to a specific play, or a specific day, when he turned the corner on his knee injury. He's not completely sure it was a physical turning point anyway. All he knows is that, at some point, he felt like his old self again when he took the field and stepped to the plate.
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Manager Jim Leyland and the Tigers stressed the importance of the double play today during drills at spring training.
Rick Porcello had a great July, winning all five starts for the Tigers. It was the month that turned a mediocre season into a good one, and it was only natural for the 23-year-old right-hander to wonder what might happen if he could start a season that way. That idea is what shaped his approach to spring training.
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Manager Jim Leyland said on Monday that the Tigers' defensive drills will be accelerated starting Tuesday. "You have to speed it up to make it more game-like," Leyland said.
Tigers catcher Alex Avila repeatedly used the word "heartbreaking" Monday as he discussed the news that right-hander Joel Zumaya is lost for the season to the Minnesota Twins because of a torn elbow ligament.
The man pays the bills at Miller Park, making him admittedly biased. But Brewers principal owner Mark Attanasio thinks everybody is missing the real story about Prince Fielder defecting to Detroit.