Tigers’ Martinez ready to call it quits after season

ESPN News Services

Detroit Tigers designated hitter Victor Martinez said after Wednesday’s 6-5 home loss to the Chicago White Sox that this season will likely be his last.

“I’m pretty sure this is going to be it,” said Martinez, who will be 40 in December. “Like I said, I’m just enjoying these last six weeks and finally go home.”

Martinez, who singled as a pinch hitter Wednesday, is batting .244 this season with six home runs and 39 RBIs.

He said that despite a disappointing season for the 50-71 Tigers, he still feels fortunate to play the game.

“I tell the guys you have to enjoy it,” Martinez said. “We’re lucky to be here just in this [locker] room. You have to enjoy every moment because you never know where you’re gonna be tomorrow.”

He has a .295 career batting average with 243 homers and 1,163 RBIs in 1,945 games with the Indians, Red Sox and Tigers.

Martinez, who spent the bulk of his career as a catcher, is in the final season of a four-year, $68 million contract.


Photo: Rick Osentoski/USA Today Sports

Former Tiger Martin fighting life-threatening bacterial infection

Cleveland Indians outfielder Leonys Martin had a bacterial infection that attacked his organs and was life-threatening, but he is in stable condition and improving, Indians president Chris Antonetti said.

Antonetti addressed the team Monday and said that Martin, who has been hospitalized at Cleveland Clinic for nearly a week, is recovering and his outlook is good, but that “progress will be measured in weeks, not days.”

Antonetti said that Martin had a bacterial infection that entered his bloodstream and damaged his internal organs. Antonetti said the organs started to shut down, and it was “severe.”

“Thankfully, he’s made a lot of progress in the last 24 to 36 hours,” Antonetti said. “He’s regained a lot of the organ function. We’re optimistic. He’s on a good path right now, and we’re hopeful that he’ll have a full recovery. But he’s got a long path to get back to full health in front of him. It’s going to take some time.”

The Indians acquired Martin, 30, from the Tigers on July 31 just before the non-waiver deadline. He became ill last Tuesday night and did not play Wednesday. On Thursday, the Indians placed him on the 10-day disabled list. On Friday, some Indians players wrote Martin’s name on their hats, and manager Terry Francona asked fans to pray for him.

“What I would say, if you believe in saying prayers and things like that, keep him in your thoughts,” Francona said.

In six games with the Indians, Martin is hitting .333 (5-for-15) with two homers and four RBIs.

Antonetti said he did not know whether Martin would play again this season.

“I haven’t even thought about baseball,” Antonetti said. “He’s got a long path to get to full health in front of him. It’s going to take him some time, but we’re in a much better spot today than we were 24 to 36 hours ago.”


Photo: Duane Burleson/Getty Images

Tigers trade Fiers to A’s, for real this time

By Blake Froling

It’s officially official this time. 

A week after a deadline deal with the Oakland Athletics fell through, the Detroit Tigers sent pitcher Mike Fiers to the A’s for cash considerations or two players to be named later, according to the team.

In his first season with the Tigers, Fiers is 7-6 with a 3.48 ERA and 87 strikeouts over 119 innings pitched. He’s been at the top of his game lately, posting a 2.10 ERA over his last six starts.

Fiers, 33, exited his last start against the Cincinnati Reds after two innings when he was struck on the shin by a line drive. X-rays were negative and he isn’t expected to miss any time. 

Baseball-Reference has his wins above replacement at 3.1, tops on the team, while Fangraphs has Fiers much lower at 1.2, which is fourth among Tigers starting pitchers. Based on which site you trust more, Fiers is either a quality middle of the rotation starter or a veteran that will eat some innings without too much damage. 

The Tigers signed Fiers in the offseason to a one-year, $6 million dollar deal after he spent two and a half seasons with the Houston Astros, where he owned a 4.59 ERA. 

Oakland is one of the hottest teams in baseball right now after winning six games in a row. They’re 2.5 games ahead of the Seattle Mariners for the second AL Wild Card spot and could use additional pitching depth behind Sean Manaea and Trevor Cahill. As for Fiers, he doesn’t have to go very far since the Tigers are in Anaheim right now. 

Photo: AP Photo/Paul Sancya

Tigers trade Leonys Martin to Indians

By Blake Froling

The Tigers traded outfielder Leonys Martin and minor league pitcher Kyle Dowdy to the Cleveland Indians for shortstop Willi Castro.

This move helps fortify one of the Tigers’ weakest positions in a farm system that’s loaded with pitchers but light on middle infielders. Castro, 21, is the Indians’ No. 8 ranked prospect according to MLB Pipeline. He’s a switch-hitter currently batting .245 with five home runs and an OPS of .653 in Double-A Akron.

Martin is in the middle of one of his best seasons as a major leaguer, posting career-highs in OPS (.731) and slugging percentage (.409). His wins above replacement is also the highest since 2014 according to baseball-reference. There were concerns that the Tigers might not be able to move Martin at the deadline because of a recent stint on the disabled list with a hamstring injury.

What’s most appealing about Martin though is his fielding. He leads the American League in outfield assists with nine and is fourth among AL outfielders in ultimate zone rating according to Fangraphs.

Dowdy, the other player the Tigers are shipping to Cleveland, is a 25-year-old pitcher who’s spent time in both Double-A Erie and Triple-A Toledo this season, posting a 4.74 ERA with 92 strikeouts in 95 innings.

Photo: Duane Burleson/Getty Images

Tigers No. 2 prospect Perez shut down for season

Associated Press

DETROIT — Tigers prospect Franklin Perez is being shut down for the rest of the season with right shoulder capsular inflammation.

Detroit acquired the right-hander in last year’s trade that sent Justin Verlander to Houston. Perez also dealt with a right lat strain earlier this year.

Perez went 0-1 with a 7.94 ERA in four starts this season for Class A Lakeland, and he was 0-1 with a 4.50 ERA in three starts in the Gulf Coast League.

A spokesman for the Tigers said Perez is being shut down for precautionary reasons to work on shoulder stability.


Photo: AP Photo/Paul Sancya

What makes Jack Morris, Alan Trammell and the rest of this class Hall of Famers?

David Schoenfield, ESPN Senior Writer

I’m a big Hall of Fame type, so I love that six players will officially get enshrined into Cooperstown this weekend. Even better, it’s six relatively recent stars who many of us enjoyed watching through the years: Jack Morris is the oldest of the six and began his major league career in 1977, pitching through the 1994 season. Believe me, this is a much more enjoyable Hall of Fame class than, say, 2013, when the inductees were an umpire who died in 1935, an owner who helped keep the color barrier intact and a catcher who played so long ago his SABR bio begins, “He caught baseball fever after the Civil War.”

Still, maybe you are younger than me and didn’t see these guys play, or at least missed some of their prime seasons. Let’s review why each player who will be inducted this weekend is now called a Hall of Famer.

Jack Morris

Morris is the most controversial Hall of Famer since Jim Rice or maybe Phil Rizzuto … or maybe ever. In contrast to Bert Blyleven, who became the pro-stathead cause célèbre and eventually got elected in his 14th year of eligibility, Morris was a lightning rod for the statheads who argued against his case, pointing to his 3.90 career ERA and 44.0 career WAR.

Morris’ ERA is the highest of any Hall of Fame pitcher, his adjusted ERA is better than only Catfish Hunter and Rube Marquard, and his WAR is the lowest for any non-reliever since Hunter was elected in 1987. Every other starting pitcher elected since 1980 has a career WAR of at least 60.0 except for Hunter, Morris and Addie Joss (and he died two days after his 31st birthday from tubercular meningitis).

So why did Morris get elected? Maybe the root of the argument spins around this idea, something I’ve come around on as a plausible Hall of Fame discussion point: Can you tell the story of the player’s era without that player being a prominent part of that story? A recent example is David Ortiz. If you’re going strictly by career value, Ortiz’s Hall of Fame case is murky, with just 55.3 WAR. But he obviously towered over the game; you can’t tell the story of 2004 to 2016 without Ortiz as a central figure. You could make a similar argument for Yadier Molina, a player whose Hall of Fame case is better than his numbers.

That’s kind of the Morris argument. He pitched one of the most famous games in baseball history. He won two games in the 1984 World Series for the Tigers, one of the best and most famous teams of the ’80s. He was a workhorse in a decade in which many of the other top pitchers didn’t stay healthy enough to cement their Hall of Fame cases. You can’t really tell the story of the 1980s and 1991 without Morris as a main character.

Now, the question is whether he actually accomplished enough for that other stuff to matter. The BBWAA said no; the Modern Era Committee said yes.

Alan Trammell

Keep an eye on these starting pitchers as deadline nears

Buster Olney, ESPN Senior Writer

Small sample size carries weight in July in a way it does not the rest of the baseball season, as teams get inspired — or spooked — by a couple of really good or really bad games leading up to the trade deadline.

An evaluator told a story recently about how one of his players in the midst of a good season struggled one day, and the phone calls from other teams with expressions of trade interest stopped. As if someone had turned off a light switch.

Everybody is looking to land the right player at the exact right time, and there could be no better example of this than in the market for starting pitching, which is generally regarded by executives as thin, lacking in high-end options.

Six weeks ago, Toronto’s J.A. Happ might have been the ranked near the top of this crop, but he has a 9.75 ERA in his past three starts, allowing 19 hits, eight walks and four homers in 12 innings, and scouts’ enthusiasm for him has waned — particularly as they try to project how he might do against playoff teams down the stretch or in October. On the other hand, the power stuff of the Rays’ Nathan Eovaldi and his three great performances from June 26 to July 8 — in which he allowed two earned runs and punched out 23 hitters in 19 innings — probably guarantees a small army of scouts will follow him for the rest of this month, in case he turns out to be the best option available. Matt Harvey was awful in 2017 and at the outset of 2018, and in 12 starts with the Reds, he has thrown much better, with only 15 walks in 64⅓ innings and a 3.64 ERA.

The Red Sox, Brewers, Yankees, Cubs, Mariners, Braves and Phillies are among the contenders who could be sifting through the high volume of rotation trade options, and unless the Mets decide to earnestly dangle Jacob deGrom, there may not be an elite starting pitcher available. They are all sifting through the same alternatives.

J.A. Happ, Blue Jays: He’ll get two more opportunities against bad teams to boost his trade value — on Sunday against the Baltimore Orioles, and five days later against the White Sox.

Marco Estrada, Blue Jays: Because of hip trouble, he has pitched one-third of an inning this month, but he’ll return to the mound against the Twins on Monday and have a couple of starts before the trade deadline. Estrada, 35, has a 4.72 ERA. He’s making $13 million this season.

Nathan Eovaldi, Rays: His average fastball velocity is 97.3 mph this season, and he’s getting a ton of missed swings — 10.6 percent for the year is a career high for the right-hander. He has the kind of raw stuff that might enable him to beat a good lineup on a good day. But Eovaldi is in his first summer after Tommy John surgery, and rival evaluators know acquiring him might carry risk because of the health unknowns — how he’ll hold up through the summer. The Minnesota Twins whacked him around for nine hits and eight runs in 2⅔ innings in his last start July 13, and he is lined up to make two more starts before the deadline — Friday against the Marlins, and Wednesday versus the Yankees. Solid outings could really boost interest in him.

If he doesn’t pitch well and fuels the perception he might simply need more time to rebuild, the Rays could consider the option of extending a one-year qualifying offer this fall, for about $18 million, to set themselves up either for draft pick compensation or holding Eovaldi on a low-risk deal.

James Shields, White Sox: The right-hander is 4-10 with a 4.43 ERA, with unusual home/road splits — a 3.51 ERA in 13 home starts, and a 6.14 ERA on the road. In two starts against the Astros, he allowed 18 hits and 15 runs in 11 innings.

Lance Lynn, Twins: Minnesota opens the second half 7 ½ games behind the Indians in the AL Central, and with one bad week, they could become sellers. Lynn has had an inconsistent season, as his ERA month-to-month demonstrates:

April: 8.37

May: 3.76

June: 2.83

July: 7.82

The 31-year-old Lynn is owed $4 million over the last two months of the season, and he could be an option for some team looking for an experienced starter for depth.

Matt Harvey, Reds: He has pitched effectively against contenders since joining Cincinnati, beating the Cubs, Braves, Brewers and Cardinals, and in his past five starts, he has a 1.86 ERA, while generating more ground balls.

Kyle Gibson, Twins: He has a 3.42 ERA in 19 starts, and while other clubs say he’s not being pushed in the trade market by Minnesota, rival executives are watching him as a possible option if the Twins become sellers. Gibson will be eligible for free agency after 2019.

Jake Odorizzi, Twins: He’s making $6.3 million this season, and has a 4.54 ERA.

Francisco Liriano, Tigers: The 34-year-old lefty has a 4.67 ERA, and it may be that some teams will have more interest in him as bullpen depth, because he has held left-handed hitters to five hits in 57 at-bats (.088). Liriano is making $4 million this season.

Zack Wheeler, Mets: He’s eligible for free agency after the 2019 season, and this year has a 4.44 ERA in 107⅓ innings.

Mike Fiers, Tigers: Over his past nine starts, he has pitched well, with a 2.75 ERA, including 5⅔ good innings against the Yankees and decent outings against the Astros and Indians. With a salary of $6 million, and under team control in 2019, he is likely one of the most attractive trade alternatives right now.

Tyson Ross, Padres: The right-hander has a daunting injury history, and has had two rough starts this month, surrendering 15 runs in seven innings against the Pirates and Diamondbacks. However, he pitched well against the Dodgers on July 12, allowing two runs in 6⅓ innings, and there’s another reason he might be really attractive to contenders — he’s making a base salary of only $1.75 million.

Chris Archer, Rays: His velocity has been down, and his overall numbers have been down. But his contract is so team friendly — $6.4 million this year, $7.7 million for next year, with team options for 2020 ($9 million) and 2021 ($11 million) — a contender might be inspired to make a bid for the former All-Star. But it still seems unlikely another team would meet Tampa Bay’s high asking price.

Ivan Nova, Pirates: He has a 4.38 ERA in 18 starts and 102⅔ innings. He’s making $9.167 million this year, and will make $9.167 million next year, which might make him less attractive than some of the other names on this list.

Photo: Abbie Parr/Getty Images


Bosio claims misunderstanding in firing, Stumpf denies nickname

By Blake Froling

*UPDATED 1:24 p.m.*

According to a new report from The Athletic, four team sources confirmed that Bosio directed the term “monkey” at an African-American clubhouse attendant, which precipitated his firing.

During this exchange, Bosio made a derogatory comment about one of the Tigers pitchers and then gestured toward the attendant before adding, “like this monkey here,” the sources said. The attendant pushed back at Bosio for the comment, and an additional team employee witnessed the exchange. Bosio was provided an opportunity to apologize to the attendant after his outburst but declined to do so, according to multiple sources.

Everyone has been wondering what former Tigers pitching coach Chris Bosio allegedly said to a team employee that was bad enough to get him fired on Wednesday. Now we know. Kind of.

Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports

Bosio spoke with Bob Nightengale of USA Today to give his side of the story and clear up what he called a “misunderstanding.” He said he was referring to Tigers pitcher Daniel Stumpf, not a clubhouse attendant:

“Someone in our coaches’ room asked me (Monday afternoon) about Stumpf,’’ Bosio said. “And I said, “Oh, you mean, ‘Spider Monkey.’ That’s his nickname. He’s a skinny little white kid who makes all of these funny faces when he works out.

“The kid thought we were talking about him. He got all upset. He assumed we were talking about him. I said, “No, no, no. We’re talking about Stumpf.’

“And that was it. I swear on my mom and dad’s graves, there was nothing else to it.’’

After the story came out, Stumpf told the Detroit Free Press on Thursday night that he has never heard that nickname for himself:

“Spider Monkey is not a nickname I have been called or I’m familiar with.”

Bosio told Nightengale that he plans to hire an attorney and will consider filing a wrongful termination suit against the Tigers. With this incident damaging his reputation, he may become untouchable in baseball for quite a while.

If it turns out Bosio’s story is actually true, then general manager Al Avila and the Tigers will look like they acted too quickly and without all the facts. But with Stumpf denying that anyone calls him “spider monkey,” that seems unlikely at this point.

Bullpen coach Rick Anderson will assume Bosio’s former job as pitching coach for the remainder of the season.

Tigers pitching coach Chris Bosio fired for ‘insensitive comments’

By Blake Froling

Detroit Tigers pitching coach Chris Bosio was fired this afternoon for “insensitive comments,” according to the team. General manager Al Avila said that bullpen coach Rick Anderson will replace Bosio for the rest of the season.

The Tigers also released a statement:

Effective immediately, the Detroit Tigers have terminated the contract of pitching coach Chris Bosio for his insensitive comments that violated Club policy and his Uniform Employee Contract. The organization holds all of our personnel to the highest standards of personal conduct both on and off the field. We have zero tolerance for this type of behavior. The Club will have no further comment on this matter.

The Tigers did not specify what Bosio said that prompted his firing. Bosio was brought onto the Tigers staff this winter by new manager Ron Gardenhire after he was fired by the Chicago Cubs.

Tigers sign top pick Mize, 3rd rounder Clemens

By Blake Froling

The Tigers have agreed to terms with two of their top draft picks, according to multiple reports.

Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press says Mize, the No. 1 overall pick from Auburn University, received a signing bonus of $7.5 million dollars, which is the second-highest in MLB Draft history behind Gerrit Cole’s $8 million, according to Jim Callis from MLB.com.

Mize finished his junior season at Auburn with a 3.30 ERA over 114.2 innings pitched, 156 strikeouts and only 16 walks.

Photo: Detroit Tigers

The Tigers also reportedly agreed to terms with second baseman Kody Clemens, the team’s third round pick from the University of Texas. He is the son of former big leaguer Roger Clemens.

Clemens hit .351 with 24 home runs and 72 RBI in 65 games this season. Hit hit just 10 home runs combined in his first two seasons in Austin.