Notes: Bonderman's woes

Notes: Bonderman's woes

KANSAS CITY -- Tigers pitching coach Bob Cluck can pinpoint why Jeremy Bonderman struggled on Monday night. He has less of a grasp on why Bonderman has struggled over the second half.

Though Bonderman showed signs of rust in his return to action on Monday night with seven runs allowed in 4 2/3 innings, the loss continued a trend that dates back to the end of July. Whereas Bonderman used his last eight starts of 2004 to establish the momentum that carried him into an Opening Day start this year, his most recent eight starts have halted the momentum of a first half that raised the possibility of a 20-win season.

The numbers show it. Bonderman went into the All-Star break with an 11-5 record, a 3.99 ERA and a slew of Detroit fans who booed Texas' Kenny Rogers at the All-Star Game, believing Bonderman should have had his spot on the AL All-Star team.

Bonderman has gone 3-8 with a 5.61 ERA since. In the meantime, he has dealt with everything from a pair of low-scoring losses to the line drive he took off his right wrist to lingering tendinitis in his right elbow.

"I think those are factors," Cluck said. "They're not very good excuses, but he doesn't want to make an excuse, either."

The elbow tendinitis, Cluck said, bothered Bonderman most on his changeup, giving him a harder time changing speeds.

Shorter term, Cluck had a simpler reasoning for Bonderman's bad outing on Monday.

"He's not hurting," Cluck said. "He was throwing hard. He just couldn't command anything."

Bonderman will have an extra day of rest before making his next start on Sunday against the Mariners. There's no consideration to shutting him down for the final week and a half of the season, though manager Alan Trammell said he could revisit that if Bonderman is hit hard again on Sunday.

Part of the problem with shutting Bonderman down, though, would be finding a replacement. Though Roman Colon played catch on Monday, Trammell does not expect him to start a game this week. Jason Grilli and Sean Douglass are expected to start Friday and Saturday against Seattle, but Trammell wants to wait and see if either is needed in the bullpen on Tuesday before deciding what order they'll pitch this weekend.

Homer un-happy: Matt Stairs' first-inning home run on Monday stretched the Tigers' league lead in homers allowed, something they haven't done for a full season since the pitching debacle known as the 1996 Tigers. In fact, this is the first time Detroit has come anywhere close to the top of the list of homers allowed since they moved into Comerica Park.

Over the last five years, the closest the Tigers have come to the top was 2003, when their 195 home runs allowed ranked fourth in the American League. Those low totals were helped in part by Comerica Park's unfriendliness to the long ball. According to the park factors formula used by, the ballpark's home run factors since 2001 have ranked 22nd, 17th, 18th and 17th in the Majors, respectively. The formula that uses ranked the ballpark no higher than 10th in the American league in its first five seasons.

That has bumped up this year, albeit slightly. Detroit's .919 rating in the formula still ranks just 17th in the Majors, but it stands friendlier to home runs than Fenway Park and Angel Stadium.

The difference in home runs allowed at Comerica Park and on the road isn't as vast as expected. Detroit's 81 home runs surrendered at home ranks fourth in the AL behind the Blue Jays, White Sox and Devil Rays. The Tigers' 101 homers allowed on the road easily top the Majors, with nobody else having yielded more than 94.

Feast or famine: Monday's mammoth home run from Carlos Pena was his 11th in 26 games since returning from Triple-A Toledo on Aug. 17. His two strikeouts raised another total: Through Tuesday, he's fanned 37 times in 95 at-bats since his return and 78 times in 68 games this season.

Much as Trammell loves seeing Pena's power and his renewed aggressiveness at the plate, the strikeouts and the tendency to pull balls are undoubtedly a consideration in his evaluation.

"Personally, what I'd like to see from a team perspective is, I just love guys who can use the whole field," Trammell said. "You do need power, there's no doubt about it. But I like good hitters who can use the whole field and are tough outs, put the ball in play more. And we don't."

Not surprisingly, then, Chris Shelton is his prototype hitter.

Good outrighted: The Tigers announced on Tuesday that right-hander Andrew Good cleared waivers and has been outrighted to Triple-A Toledo. The Mud Hens starter was designated for assignment last week to make room for Jason Grilli on the 40-man roster.

Coming up: The Tigers and Royals finish their four-game, three-day series with a 2:05 p.m. ET matinee on Wednesday at Kauffman Stadium. Jason Johnson (8-12, 4.62 ERA) will try for his second win of September when he goes up against Kansas City left-hander Jimmy Gobble (1-1, 5.91 ERA). After that, the Tigers will enjoy their first true off-day in a month.

Jason Beck is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.