Mailbag: Was first week a sign or fluke?

Mailbag: Was first week a sign or fluke?

Can Pudge possibly start 2006 as well as he did 2005, or is that too much to expect, considering he is a year older?
-- Parker W., Birmingham, Ala.

I don't think a strong start from Ivan Rodriguez is out of the question given his history. First, he's a .323 career hitter in March and April. The only month in which he hits better is June (.331). His energy level is high early on in the year, and he hasn't been nicked up with minor injuries by that point.

Second, he's showing signs, so far, of looking for line drives to all parts of the field rather than aiming for home runs. As impressive as his home run was during his 5-for-5 game last Wednesday at Kansas City, he was spraying doubles down both lines.

I don't think age or physicial condition is an issue with him. As long as he's willing to take pitches and work the count, I think he can have a very good start as far as batting average goes, until pitchers are forced to adjust.

Jason, after watching the Tigers' success in the first week of the season, do you feel they would be in the same or similar situation if Alan Trammell was still managing?
-- Matthew H., Hopkins, Mich.

Honestly, I can't say that wouldn't be. This team, with mostly the same players, started out 4-0 under Trammell in 2004. Except for that 2003 team, April was never a problem with Trammell. The months that came after that were part of his downfall, especially the stretch run. I think that's where you'll see any difference with Leyland. He doesn't allow his players to get too up or too down, because he doesn't allow himself to do it, and they tend to follow his lead. Trammell tended to live and die with games.

Why are the Tigers not televised? After the last few years, one would figure that publicity would be a major concern. Why are the Tigers on TV only four times over the first two weeks? The new deal only adds 16 games and doesn't even begin until June!
-- Steve C., Ypsilanti, Mich.

Part of the trickiness with televising the Tigers in April is that the Pistons and Red Wings are still in their regular season, and FSN Detroit holds the rights to broadcast all three teams. The other problem this year is that if you look at the schedule, there aren't very many 7 p.m. type starts out there. The only night game this week is the same night as a Pistons broadcast. They go on the West Coast for a week and a half, but that scheduling can be even tougher because the Red Wings and Pistons are both in the first round of the playoffs around then.

I know television scheduling is a big issue, but as far as April goes, this is what they have to live with unless they eventually can move early games to over-the-air stations in future years. Even if FSN could broadcast 140 Tigers games, I don't think you'd see a big increase in April.

Curtis Granderson obviously deserved the center-field job after his spring compared to Nook Logan's. However, why move Logan down with his ability to pinch-run, and play defense for someone who can't? He had a three-error game this spring, but he filled in the ninth several times last season and made spectacular plays.
-- Eddie Z., Canton, Mich.

The day the Tigers optioned Logan to Toledo, Leyland said he did it because he didn't want Granderson looking over his shoulder after every bad game he had. He wants Granderson to feel comfortable in the job, so they can get a good idea what he can do. Plus, realistically, if the Tigers want Logan to work on his hitting, he wouldn't have a fair chance to do it sitting six out of seven days in Detroit. Playing every day in Toledo gives him a better opportunity, though the point is moot now that he's out for about four weeks with a fractured right pinky finger.

Have a question about the Tigers?
Jason BeckE-mail your query to MLB.com Tigers beat reporter Jason Beck for possible inclusion in a future Inbox column. Letters may be edited for brevity, length and/or content.
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The Tigers in past years have been paying salaries for players that have played for other teams -- Damion Easley and Tony Clark, for instance. Are there any more players the Tigers are still paying for from Randy Smith era trades?
-- Tony T., Belleville, Mich.

No. Those deals are all done.

What is the difference between someone being "Assigned to Minor League camp" and "Optioned to Toledo"?
-- Steve B., Toledo

It's really just administrative, depending on whether a player is on the 40-man roster. If he is, he must be optioned if he's sent to the Minors out of Spring Training. If he isn't on the 40-man, then options don't play into it, so he can simply be assigned to Minor League camp without needing a roster move. The only roster move that must be done with non-roster invitees like that is their contract must be purchased if they make the team.

Why don't the Tigers have any academies in Latin America like successful teams, i.e., Dodgers and Yankees. Isn't this a total indictment of owner Mike Illitch?
-- Jeff B., Detroit

Actually, the Tigers have academies in the Dominican Republic and Venezuela. In fact, they just hired a director of Latin American operations last fall, Manny Crespo, whose job description includes coordinating the instruction for the academies.

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