Notes: Jones talks about old ballpark

Notes: Jones talks about old ballpark

CHICAGO -- Todd Jones threw the last Major League pitch in Tiger Stadium. He's now watching the old ballpark being given its last rites.

Jones, the only current Tiger who was on the team when it still played at the corner of Michigan and Trumbull, fell onto the pragmatic side of the debate involving what to do with his former home park. Though he wants to see it preserved as much as possible, he hates to see it in its current state. Part of him was simply glad to see some sort of decision made on what to do with it.

"I think it was a hard question for a lot of people," Jones said Saturday from Wrigley Field. "Tiger Stadium meant so much for so many people. They just couldn't decide what they're going to do with it."

But if the ballpark has to come down, he wants to see something in its place that helps the entire neighborhood around it. He wanted to know what, if anything, was happening to the nearby Michigan Central Train Station.

"They need to develop around Tiger Stadium and call it what it is and not just tear it down," Jones said.

The city of Detroit announced plans Friday to tear down most of the stadium and redevelop the area. While the playing field is expected to be preserved for Little League games and community activities, and some parts of the structure kept and renovated, the rest is expected to be part of a retail and residential complex proposed by the Greater Corktown Development Corporation and endorsed by Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.

Jones had yet to see the details of the proposal, though he seemed encouraged that at least parts of the park would be saved. If he had his preference, he'd try to save the famous flagpole, once the largest structure on the playing field of a Major League ballpark, move it to Comerica Park and somehow put it back in play.

"As long as I don't have to play center," he said.

As for other items from the old ballpark, don't expect Jones to join in on any possibly auction. He already has a seat from Tiger Stadium, as well as one home plate that was used during the final season of 1999.

Monroe can play, but doesn't: Manager Jim Leyland said Craig Monroe's sprained right ankle is healthy enough now that he can play the outfield again if needed. He's not sitting because of health reasons, but because Leyland wants Marcus Thames' bat in the lineup and he doesn't have a DH slot to use.

"I've got to play the hot bat with Marcus," Leyland said. "I'm not going to say Craig Monroe is not going to play, because he's one of our good hitters."

He's just not going to say when Monroe will play. He's a late-inning pinch-hitter if needed, but more likely any start would happen in the upcoming series at Milwaukee.

Football fan: Jason Grilli grew up in the states, but thanks to his heritage, was eligible for Italian citizenship to represent them this past spring in the World Baseball Classic. With Team USA facing Italy in the FIFA World Cup on Saturday afternoon, Grilli had a choice to make for whom he would root.

In the end, heritage won out, or at least a better place in the world standings.

"Why can't I be a front-runner?" Grilli asked half-jokingly. "I have Italian blood running through my veins."

Minor matters: Tigers pitching prospect Jair Jurrjens held his own in his Double-A debut Friday night, allowing two earned runs on six hits over five innings in a no-decision for Erie, which lost a 7-4 decision to Harrisburg. Jurrjens was promoted from Class A Lakeland earlier in the week to replace Humberto Sanchez upon his call to Triple-A Toledo.

Jurrjens remains unbeaten on the year, having gone 5-0 with a 2.08 ERA at Lakeland.

Coming up: Kenny Rogers (9-3, 3.25 ERA) will try for his 200th career victory in one of the few parks left where he has yet to pitch. The 2:20 p.m. ET matinee will wrap up the Tigers' weekend series at Wrigley Field. Mark Prior is scheduled to come off the disabled list to make his first start this season for the Cubs after being sidelined with a subscapularis strain in his right shoulder.

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