Mailbag: Who will snag 'pen spots?

Mailbag: Who will snag 'pen spots?

Who has the inside track for the open spots in the Tigers' bullpen, and do you think that Zach Miner will be considered the sixth starter, but sent to Toledo so he can remain "stretched out" in case a replacement is needed in the rotation?
-- Patrick O., Costa Mesa, Calif.

At this point, I'm not sure there is an inside track for the bullpen spots, if for no better reason than nobody knows for sure what to expect from Francisco Cruceta and Denny Bautista. They have great arms, but they haven't produced the results yet in the big leagues. Even in winter ball, they had some up-and-down performances. If one or both of them emerge, that affects the picture. If neither do, then the Tigers have to figure out where to go from there. Jason Grilli is an experienced reliever with upside, while Yorman Bazardo has a good arm but is converting over from starting.

As for Miner, he's kind of in between. He's expected to be stretched out at some point, but he still could fit in a relief role. The fact that he still could be optioned to the Minors doesn't help his cause, but if he's outpitching everybody else, I don't think he'll be doomed to Triple-A because of it.

In all I have read and heard about the upcoming season, the depletion of the Tigers' farm system with all the trades made recently and bullpen candidates, I never hear Macay McBride mentioned. Wasn't he supposed to have high potential when acquired last year? What is the story on him?
-- James C., Grand Ridge, Fla.

The plan on McBride is to stretch him out this spring as a starter and try to recapture some of the success he had in that role earlier in his career. Plus, Seay and Byrdak appear set as the left-handed options for the bullpen.

Is everyone writing off Jacque Jones for left field? Isn't this guy a pretty good player? I thought he was a leadoff hitter at one time. With his speed and if he can bunt, he could really be a bother to other teams. How is he on defense?
-- Gerry H., Erie, Pa.

I don't think Jones is getting written off, but I think he's being overshadowed by some of the bigger names the Tigers brought in over the offseason and by some of his numbers last year.

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Jones is an interesting player because of last season's splits (.233 average first half, .332 second half) and the fact that his track record suggests a lot more power than he showed in 2007. He was a leadoff hitter early in his career in Minnesota, but that was five years ago, and he won't lead off with the Tigers. He reported to camp early and has been among those working with outfield coach Andy Van Slyke on defensive drills before the full squad reports.

Now that the Tigers have their set position players, is Gary Sheffield going to be strictly in a DH role?
-- Brian E., Swartz Creek, Mich.

Not strictly, but the vast majority of his games will be at DH, especially early in the season. He could still end up in the outfield on spot occasions and when the Tigers have Interleague games on the road and lose the DH spot.

With single-game tickets set to go on sale in March, when can a Tigers fan expect to learn what the team's promotional schedule plans are for the upcoming season?
-- Jason M., Flint, Mich.

The Tigers just released their promotional schedule on Monday. You can check it out here.

In your notes recently you ended the article by saying, "Partial season-ticket plans do not include Opening Day or the option to buy postseason tickets." It was my understanding when I purchased my 41-game partial season-ticket package that I would have the opportunity to purchase postseason tickets if we are in the playoffs. Hopefully this was a rare oversight by you. Please clear up this situation for me.
-- Jeremy D., Au Gres, Mich.

According to Bob Raymond, vice president of ticket sales and service, new 41-game-ticket holders who just ordered their plans are entered into a random drawing for the chance to buy postseason tickets.

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