Notes: Walker reflects on Tigers

Notes: Walker reflects on Tigers

DETROIT -- Money has changed Jamie Walker's surroundings, but it hasn't changed Jamie Walker.

"No, same old me," he joked. "I'm too old to change. Can't teach an old horse new tricks."

About the only change he has made is the hair he's growing on his head, but that's partly to show his teammates that he can. He has the same attitude on his job -- a reliever either gets five minutes of fame, or a whole day as the scapegoat -- the same approach to pitching, and the same no-nonsense attitude.

He had no hard feelings over the Tigers letting him go as a free agent last offseason, and the Tigers have no hard feelings for him taking a three-year contract from the Orioles. That did nothing to reduce the awkwardness he was feeling as he walked into Comerica Park, his home ballpark for five years, and went into the visitors clubhouse instead of the home one.

"Pulling in, the parking attendant gave me a hug," he said. "I met some quality people here. I miss that, but I have to move on. Quality people from the ground up here. I'm pulling for them, except for these three days."

Walker essentially saw this club built from the ground up. He was called up to Detroit two weeks into the 2002 season, soon after Randy Smith and Phil Garner were fired and the reconstruction process had begun. He led the Tigers in appearances for three straight seasons, topping out at 78 games in 2003.

"It's weird coming back, I ain't going to lie," Walker said. "I wished I could've finished my career here. I would've loved to have worn the old English D for the rest of my career, but unfortunately it didn't work out. No hard feelings with me. I had to do what was best for me.

"[The Orioles] also told me that they were going to make a commitment over here to the bullpen. They told me who they were going to get, and they went out and got them. Obviously, the financial thing, I've got other mouths to feed. I'm thankful to be a Baltimore Oriole, and I was thankful to be a Detroit Tiger. They're a first-class organization from the top to the bottom. There's no hard feelings with me."

The only trepidation Walker had was that he didn't want to receive his American League championship ring in Detroit. Instead, he received it in Baltimore in the clubhouse.

"I didn't want to do it on the field," he said. "I didn't want to be a distraction."

Casey recalls Hancock: Sean Casey spent most of Sunday dealing with a stomach virus. The news that greeted him Sunday morning made him feel worse.

Casey knew Cardinals reliever Josh Hancock for two years while they were teammates in the Reds organization. He learned of his passing Sunday morning while watching television.

"I remember meeting with him last year at the World Series," Casey said. "We met behind the cage, and we got a chance to talk about how two years ago we were in Cincinnati, and not in the playoffs. Josh was hurt the year before with a bone injury. Now, he was finally getting an opportunity to be a big part of [the Cardinals].

"I guess for me it was kind of one of those moments where you get so caught up in your world, the stress of this game, even now, and then you just think about Josh. He'll never have a chance to worry about his ERA again, never have a chance to go out there and toe the mound. He was a great guy. It's tragic. I got to know him really well. He was a fun guy to be around."

Healthwise, at least, Casey was feeling much better Monday and was starting to hold down food. Manager Jim Leyland said he gave him another day out of the lineup, in part, to regain some of his strength.

Casey might not play again until Wednesday. The Orioles start left-hander Adam Loewen on Tuesday, so Marcus Thames could earn another start at first base.

Mesa to rehab Tuesday: Jose Mesa will start Tuesday for Triple-A Toledo, in what's likely to be a one-day Minor League rehab stint. Mesa, on the 15-day disabled list since April 17 with a strained right groin, will throw two innings, or 25 pitches, for the Mud Hens. If he feels well after that, he'll rejoin the team Wednesday and be activated.

Wilson update: Catcher Vance Wilson, on the disabled list since the start of the season with a torn muscle in his right arm, began throwing again for the first time since opening week. He threw a short session from 60 feet away, and said he felt fine other than the expected fatigue from not throwing in over three weeks.

Wilson will rest his arm Tuesday, then throw again Wednesday. He's expected to remain on a schedule of throwing every other day, gradually increasing the distance until he's declared ready to catch again.

Vasquez suspended: Class A Lakeland right-hander Sendy Vasquez, ranked 12th on Baseball America's Tigers prospect list before the season, became the first player in the Tigers organization to be suspended for violating Major League Baseball's performance-enhancing substance policy. He was suspended 50 games Monday for a positive test.

Vasquez was 0-3 through four starts this year with an 8.20 ERA, having allowing 25 hits and 11 walks over 18 2/3 innings.

Coming up: The Tigers and Orioles continue their series Tuesday with a 7:05 p.m. ET game at Comerica Park. Chad Durbin (1-1, 6.65) will try to follow up his stellar performance last Wednesday at Chicago when he takes the mound, opposing the promising young lefty Loewen (2-0, 3.20).

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