Tigers Pitchers Pleading The Fifth





DETROIT—The signing of Prince Fielder may affect the young starters in the upper levels of the Tigers organization.

General manager Dave Dombrowski and manager Jim Leyland hinted this offseason that the team was looking for a fifth starter. That was before the Tigers signed Fielder to a nine-year, $214 million contract, which may limit the amount of money the team can spend on an established starter. The organization's young arms, led by 20-year-old righthander Jacob Turner, may be ready soon.

"I'm very excited for this spring—I can't wait for spring training to get here," Turner said. "But the only thing I can control is to be ready. If they call my name, I want to be ready to throw.

"Obviously there's an open spot, and that's all you can hope for: an opportunity."
Other options within the organization include lefthanders Duane Below, Casey Crosby, Andy Oliver, Drew Smyly and Adam Wilk.

"I want to win the fifth spot, but I know I have to earn that spot," Below said. "There are other guys as good as me—some better—and I have to compete for that job.

"We're all competitors. We're all working hard to get that job. But we don't make that call."

Leyland is trying to downplay the competition between his young pitchers for the fifth starter's job.

"I think a guy goes to spring training and puts extra pressure on himself (if you call it a competition)," Leyland said. "He starts thinking, 'If I have a good outing, I might stay a little longer. If I have two good outings, I might make the team.' I don't think that's the purpose of it.

"Jacob Turner is one of several guys who should go to spring training saying, 'You know what, I'm getting myself ready for the season—Opening Day, wherever that may be.' "

TIGER TALES

• The Tigers signed former Pirates prospect Brad Eldred to a minor league contract. Eldred has hit 227 home runs in his minor league career to rank sixth among the active leaders in that category.

• The Fielder signing will cost the Tigers their first-round draft pick in June, marking the third consecutive year Detroit won't have a pick in the first round.