The Big Show
Let’s see how some of you favorite Tigers are doing the MLB and MiLB
Chris Bootcheck – Indianapolis Indians (AAA/Pirates)
Booty has been alternating good and bad starts for his last ten appearances. But the good news is after a disastrous implosion on April 21 where he gave up 5 ER in 1 inning, he has seemed to find his groove; picking up 2 saves and only allowing 1 ER in 4 appearances. The demotion to AAA seems to be a good thing for Bootcheck. He seems to be settling in and enjoying playing 3 hours from his hometown of La Porte, Indiana. The Indy Star ran a nice profile on him and he has at least some fans wondering when he’ll be wearing the Black and Gold of his Parent Club:
Why didn't Chris Bootcheck make the bullpen for the start of the season? I watched Spring Training pretty closely, and I noticed that Bootcheck started out being one of our best relievers. Why didn't he make it over Jesse Chavez or one of the other pitchers in our bullpen?
-- Timmy L., Kittanning, Pa.
Bootcheck did have a decent spring, and you're right, he started off quite strong. The fact that he is not on the team's 40-man roster certainly worked against Bootcheck (and anyone else in his situation) as it does every spring. If Bootcheck had made the club, the Pirates would have had to clear a spot on the 40-man roster by taking someone off. In the cases of the last four relievers who did make it -- Craig Hansen, Sean Burnett, Donnie Veal and Chavez -- all were already on the 40-man roster, so no additional move was necessary.
Bootcheck is pitching out of the bullpen in Triple-A and would be an option to join the big league club later this season if needed. But if/when the Pirates do, they are going to have a binding roster decision to make simultaneously.
Gabe Gross – Tampa Bay Rays (MLB)
Oh Gabe. You’ve found quite a nice gig down in Tampa haven’t you? Gross has now become to valuable in the field to send down to AAA and too weak at the plate to justify being an everyday starter. For now, Gabe is probably content on being in the platoon role and hitting .238 on the season. He did celebrate the birth of his first child, Allie Lee, this past April and is probably also excited about manager Joe Maddon’s “plan” that he’s sticking with even though the Rays are slumping a bit to start the season. Especially because he seems to be a part of that plan. Sitting pretty with his gaurunteed contract, Gross has already seen how committed the Rays are already this season when a combination of a healthy BJ Upton and crowded outfield forced the demotion of Matt Joyce and not Gross to AAA Durham. Currently, the Rays have 5 OFs (Pat Burrell,Carl Crawford, BJ Upton, Gabe Gross, Gabe Kapler); Burrell usually DH; Upton and Crawford are everyday which leaves the two Gabes fighting over that final spot.
David Ross – Atlanta Braves (MLB)
Ross, finally healthy, has found a nice groove for the Bravos while Brain McCann tends to his vision issues. He is currently hitting .282, celebrating the arrival of a baby boy, and being lauded by Braves management and staff. So yeah, life is good for the former Tiger and former Florida Gator.
Tim Hudson – Atlanta Braves (MLB)
Yep, still hurt.
Steven Register – Colorado Springs Sky Sox (AAA/Colorado Rockies)
Register, the Sky Sox closer, has been pretty effective, but not dazzling on the year: Already collecting 3 saves on the young season, but also posting a 3.60 ERA. It’s unsure when, if at all, the Rockies might call him up. However, when they do it probably won’t be in a closing role (even though Huston Street’s struggles in that role have been well documented)
Justin Christian – Norfolk Tides (AAA/Baltimore Orioles)
JC is just plugging away in Norfolk, awaiting a call up to Baltimore. He’s already got 3 Triples and 6 Stolen Bases on the seasons and is batting a respectable .272 in 24 games. I’m not familiar enough with the Orioles outfield situation to know how close he is to a call up, but, if early season decisions are any indications, it just depends on how terrible Felix Pie turns out to be. He might be called up and then put in a role similar to Gabe Gross.
Tug Hulett – Omaha Royals (AAA/ Kansas City Royals)
War Damn Tugger. Hulett is on a tear, hitting .306 with 20 RBIs already. Hulett went through a stretch where he had at least two RBIs in six games. He’s cooled off a bit though (batting .207 over his last 10 games). Hulett’s main competetion for a promotion comes in the form of Kila Ka’aihue (somewhat of a folk hero among Royals fan). However, Hulett’s versatility in the field could mean a call up sooner rather than later.