Notes: Pitchers keep eye on Granderson

Notes: Pitchers keep eye on Granderson

MINNEAPOLIS -- Curtis Granderson has four stolen bases in his Major League career. He has had one professional season with more than 14 stolen bases, and that was last year's 22-steal campaign at Triple-A Toledo for a manager who loves to run. He freely admits he is not the speed demon that Nook Logan is.

Granderson does not have the track record as a dangerous basestealer, but many opponents are already treating him as one.

"I'm getting frustrated because I can't go," Granderson admitted after Friday's 9-6 win. "I want to go. But at the same time, if they're worried about me, they're going to break down mechanically. I know pitchers don't want to rush, and he has to be fast in order for me not to go."

Whether or not Granderson had Twins starter Kyle Lohse worried Friday night, he certainly had Lohse's attention. Lohse threw over to first base three times and pitched out another with Granderson on, one out in the first inning and Ivan Rodriguez at the plate, possibly sensing a hit-and-run attempt. Lohse retired Rodriguez on a flyout to right before Magglio Ordonez hit the first pitch he saw for an RBI double.

"Some guys, it will bother," manager Jim Leyland said. "Some guys, it won't."

When Granderson reached base on a two-out walk in the eighth, Jesse Crain threw over twice before striking out Brandon Inge.

On Wednesday, Jeff Weaver threw over four times with Granderson on in the third inning before finally picking him off. Weaver threw over twice more in the sixth with Granderson on and Pudge at the plate, eventually eliminating him on a double play.

Granderson has not even attempted a steal since April 24, the first day of the Tigers' three-game series at Angel Stadium, and he was nabbed on a pitchout.

Part of the attention, Granderson admits, goes with the territory of the role he plays on this team.

"The combination of being in center field, being at the top of the lineup, adds to [the reputation] right away," Granderson said. "Even though I don't have 20 stolen bases, I'm always a threat to go. I think they know that. So somehow, I have to make it look less obvious."

As long as pitchers see him as a constant threat, the Tigers are going to try to exploit it, working him into big leads, whether or not he's going. Even when the pitcher doesn't throw over or pitch out, he can be rushed into a slide step or forced to throw more fastballs to the plate in order to give his catcher a chance to throw out Granderson if he does go.

The trick, says first-base and baserunning coach Andy Van Slyke, is to make sure Granderson is a step and a slide away from the bag. If he's not running, he can sometimes take an even bigger lead than he otherwise would, because he doesn't have to worry about being caught leaning towards second.

Indeed, Granderson could be seen taking the same or incrementally bigger leads once Lohse threw over Friday night.

"It's a good thing," Granderson said. "I like the fact that they're throwing over, because they're worried about me and it gives the hitter a little more chance to get balls out of the zone because he's worried about me. If he elevates a ball up, they can get on top of it and maybe drop it in the gap."

Respect the Dome: Leyland has made a point so far this season of not emphasizing the challenge of winning on the road. He wants his team to expect to play well, no matter where it plays. Even he had to admit, though, that Friday was a big win for his club.

"I thought it was probably the biggest win of the year, so far," Leyland said. "I just think it's been a tough place with a very good ballclub. Kenny [Rogers] wasn't sharp, and it looked like one of those games. I've seen a lot of these when I coached for the White Sox and read about other teams over the years, that those are games you usually lose in the Metrodome when they come back like that and get right back in there, get within one or two. Most of the time, they've won those games. I thought the way the guys stayed after it last night and added on, I thought it was a real nice scenario for our team.

"We were coming off a loss and coming to a place where they're waiting for you because of the prior weekend. I have all the respect in the world for this team and this franchise. I sat there at the World Series with the Homer Hanky. I played a lot of games up here with the White Sox. It's a tough place. We could've lost that game very easily. Our guys hung in there, battled, stayed after it and we won it."

Polanco out again: Placido Polanco said his sore back was feeling better Saturday, but it wasn't good enough to play. He was out of the lineup for the second straight game on Saturday. Omar Infante started in his place at second base.

The move put Leyland in a bind at shortstop, where Leyland was hoping to start one of his reserves and give Carlos Guillen a day at DH to limit his time on the artificial turf. Had Leyland done that and sat Polanco, he would've had no healthy infielders available off his bench.

The issue could pop up again Sunday. Asked whether Polanco might sit again Sunday to avoid the turf, Leyland said, "That's a possibility, and we will consider it."

Mantei to DL: Matt Mantei won't be pitching in the Majors, or anywhere, for the next week. The Triple-A Toledo Mud Hens placed him on the seven-day disabled list Saturday with a sore right shoulder. Mantei battled control problems in back-to-back outings Thursday and Friday.

Coming up: The Tigers will have their first meeting with Twins ace Johan Santana (2-3, 3.89 ERA) Sunday afternoon in the series finale against the Twins. Mike Maroth (4-1, 1.78 ERA) will try to move back into a tie for the AL wins lead in the 2:10 p.m. ET matchup at the Metrodome.

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