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Ortega draws rare early praise from Leyland


LAKELAND, Fla. -- Tigers manager Jim Leyland rarely makes a point to compliment pitchers by name in early throwing sessions, preferring to take bullpen sessions with a grain of salt. When he does pass along a compliment, it's usually with a purpose.

Saturday's praise of right-hander Jose Ortega was twofold.

"I know one thing: Of the guys I watched today, I would not have wanted to be hitting off of Ortega," Leyland said. "He's throwing great. Oh boy, he's got nasty stuff."

His praise is genuine, and an intent to give a boost to a young reliever who has gone largely ignored over the past year or so while prospects such as Bruce Rondon and Melvin Mercedes have drawn more attention.

At the same time, it's a caution not to make roster decisions based on early sessions.

"It's just a reminder not to get carried away, because if you saw what you saw today, [it was] pretty impressive," Leyland said.

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