Bonine set to face Dodgers in debut

Bonine set to face Dodgers in debut

DETROIT -- Last time, they found a pleasant surprise. This time, the Tigers are looking for another Triple-A callup to shine in their rotation.

Right-hander Eddie Bonine makes his Major League debut on Saturday as the Tigers continue their Interleague series with the Dodgers. After posting a 9-2 record at Toledo, the Tigers hope Bonine follows in the footsteps of April callup Armando Galarraga and experiences immediate success.

"It's very exciting," Bonine said Friday night in a phone interview. "It's something I've been working towards for the last four, five years."

The rotation spot opened after the Tigers sent Dontrelle Willis to Class A Lakeland on Tuesday to rediscover his control.

Bonine arrived in Detroit on Friday night, but chose to relax in his hotel room and watch the Tigers' series opener vs. the Dodgers on television. That concluded his preparation for his debut. No film. No studying. He would rather make the Dodgers adjust to him.

"In this situation, you need to do what you do well," Bonine said. "Doing what I do got me this far. They'll make adjustments eventually, but if I keep to what I do best, I should be OK."

In the 27-year-old Bonine, the Tigers have a pitcher who excels in the control department. This season he has walked only 14 batters in 74 1/3 innings. Last year at Double-A Erie, he walked 24 in 154 2/3 innings -- a 1.34 walks-per-nine-innings average that led the Eastern League.

"He's an unbelievable competitor," Tigers infielder and Bonine's former Toledo teammate Michael Hollimon said. "With that guy, you know what you're going to get. He's locked in."

The Tigers could use his accuracy. Their staff has the second-highest walk total in the Majors.

They could use his winning resume, too. After all, that's what got him this opportunity in the first place. Bonine has put together a 24-7 record the last two seasons. Friday's 5-0 win still puts the Tigers eight games back in the American League Central, so they are in no position to turn down wins.

"I've never seen him, but he's [24-7] in the last couple years, and if that isn't enough to get you called up, I don't know what you would have to do," manager Jim Leyland said.

Coincidentally, Galarraga also traveled north from Toledo to fill in for Willis, who hyperextended his right knee earlier in the year. Galarraga has since registered the most wins and lowest ERA in the Tigers' rotation.

Can the Tigers catch lightning in a bottle again?

"That would be nice," Leyland said.

Interleague record: 102-95 overall, 2-2 in 2008

2008 Interleague Schedule
• May 16 at Diamondbacks: Lost, 4-3
• May 17 at Diamondbacks: Won, 3-2
• May 18 at Diamondbacks: Lost, 4-0
• June 13 vs. Dodgers: Won, 5-0
• June 14 vs. Dodgers
• June 15 vs. Dodgers
• June 16 at Giants
• June 17 at Giants
• June 18 at Giants
• June 20 at Padres
• June 21 at Padres
• June 22 at Padres
• June 24 vs. Cardinals
• June 25 vs. Cardinals
• June 26 vs. Cardinals
• June 27 vs. Rockies
• June 28 vs. Rockies
• June 29 vs. Rockies

Pitching matchup
DET: RHP Eddie Bonine (0-0, -.-- ERA)
Bonine makes his Major League debut on a FOX regional television broadcast. He won seven of his first nine starts at Toledo this season, but he has struggled in his last four. In those outings, he gave up 15 earned runs on 30 hits in 19 innings. Mixed in was seven innings of three-run ball against Indianapolis, the Pirates' Triple-A affiliate. Since coming to the Detroit system in 2005 via the Minor League Rule 5 Draft, he has not faced any Dodgers Minor League affiliates.

LAD: RHP Brad Penny (5-8, 5.38 ERA)
Penny pitched well for the second straight outing Sunday against the Cubs, yielding three runs on six hits in six innings. He also struck out five and walked three. Penny has not won since May 2, a span of seven starts, but he's pitched much better in his last two, both of which have been quality starts in which his opponent has shut down the Dodgers' offense. Before that, he had compiled a 9.43 ERA in his previous five outings.

Tidbits
After Friday's game, the Tigers optioned reliever Clay Rapada to Triple-A Toledo to create roster room for Bonine. ... Outfielder Clete Thomas and reliever Fernando Rodney played in a Minor League rehab game on Friday at Toledo. Thomas began his rehab assignment by going 0-for-3 with a walk and three strikeouts. Rodney pitched two scorelesss, hitless innings, with 22 of his 26 pitches going for strikes. ... The Tigers' other injured reliever, Joel Zumaya, remained in Detroit on Friday. The right-hander will make appearances in Toledo on Saturday, Monday and Tuesday. ... On the Tigers' current homestand, their pitchers have a 6-2 record, 2.63 ERA and 1.98 batting average against.

Tickets
 Buy tickets now to catch the game in person.

On the Internet
 MLB.TV
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• FOX

On radio
• 97.1FM/1270AM

Up next
• Sunday: Tigers (Nate Robertson, 4-6, 5.88) vs. Dodgers (Clayton Kershaw, 0-1, 4.50), 1:05 p.m. ET
• Monday: Tigers (Justin Verlander, 3-9, 4.65) at Giants (Tim Lincecum, 8-1, 1.99), 10:15 p.m. ET
• Tuesday: Tigers (Kenny Rogers, 4-4, 4.74) at Giants (Jonathan Sanchez, 6-3, 4.26), 10:15 p.m. ET

Scott McNeish is an associate reporter for MLB.com This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.