Washburn reflects on move to Detroit

Washburn reflects on move to Detroit

DETROIT -- When Jarrod Washburn was in Detroit less than two weeks ago pitching for the Seattle Mariners, he was asked repeatedly about the trade rumors.

And unlike many Major League players, Washburn didn't mince any words. He was open and honest about whether he was thinking about the possibility of being traded.

"Away from the field I think about it a lot," Washburn said from the clubhouse at Comerica Park after he allowed two hits and no runs in seven innings on July 23 in a 2-1 victory over the Tigers. He added that all players rumored to be traded think about the possibility, and that it is hard not to.

"I can't help but think about it, especially when guys like [the media] keep asking me about it," Washburn said. "But if I do get traded by the Deadline, it means that something bad happened in Seattle here in the next two weeks and I don't want that to happen."

The Mariners didn't exactly fall into the baseball abyss, but management did feel that it was in their best interests to trade Washburn with his impending free agency and Seattle falling further behind the Angels and Rangers in the American League West.

Fast forward to early August. Now Washburn is sitting in the comfortable confines of Comerica Park ready to make his first start for Detroit against Baltimore on Tuesday night. He admits to feeling a bit like a rookie once again.

"I'd like to get [Tuesday] out of the way," Washburn said on Monday.

One of the first things he had to do late last week was introduce himself to his new teammates. For a player who has been around the Majors for 12 years, it might come as a surprise that he has never been on the same team as any current Tigers players.

A more critical component of his transition will be getting used to working with catchers Gerald Laird and Dusty Ryan. Washburn says it often takes a handful of starts before catchers and pitchers get to learn each other's tendencies, but he is confident that it will happen quickly.

"That's the toughest part of the whole transition," Washburn said. "I might have to do more shaking off [signs] than I normally would. It may take two, three, four games before the catchers learn what I can do."

Detroit manager Jim Leyland already has a good idea what Washburn can do. He calls his new lefty a "tremendous professional pitcher," who is a genuinely likable guy.

"Does he have lights-out stuff? No. Does he have great stuff? Yes. [And] his pitchability is tremendous," Leyland said.

Leyland also won't put any added pressure on Washburn to help support a bullpen that includes such rookies as Ryan Perry, Casey Fien and Fu-Te Ni and is without Joel Zumaya for the remainder of the season.

"I want him to be himself, just be Jarrod Washburn," Leyland said. "He's a pro. I like him very much."

Washburn knows he will be here for two months. After that it's anyone's guess. That's because at the start of the 2009 season, he was "99 percent sure" that he would retire.

"I've made enough money and my [three] kids are getting older," Washburn said. "Of course it wasn't fun [in Seattle] last year when we were losing."

But that decision is for another day. For at least the next two months, free agency or retirement can wait. Washburn has a pennant race to concentrate on.

Mike Scott is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.