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Tigers' heads are everywhere but in the game

By DAMIAN CRISTODERO, Times Staff Writer
Published September 18, 2005

In our second of an occasional series on teams going nowhere - last week it was the Nationals - we take a look at the Tigers.

Detroit was a season-best four games below .500 entering September but lost nine straight while scoring 12 runs, the fewest for the team in a nine-game stretch in 100 years, according to the Detroit Free Press.

The Tigers have regrouped somewhat and, entering Saturday, were 4-12 in the month, but that hasn't stopped the bickering and infighting. To wit:

"I think we stink," outfielder Magglio Ordonez told the Free Press. "We should feel embarrassed the way we are playing and the way we are hitting. We need to change our attitude. We should be over .500."

"Too many guys in here are thinking about everything but baseball," shortstop Carlos Guillen said. "They think about hunting or golf or playing guitar, anything but getting ready to play the game.

"I watch guys go outside and practice hunting with bows and arrows and I think, "What do they want to be, Indiana Jones or baseball players?' "

Manager Alan Trammell agreed focus has been an issue, and he had a message for those playing out the season: "If you don't want to play, go home. But don't get paid.

"It's your job, and when you think about it, we're pretty fortunate with the life we get to live. Pretty nice damn little gig we got going here. You look at some of the things that are happening around the world, like the hurricane, and you say, "What do we have to complain about?' Not too many people want to hear how tough we have it."

After Monday's 2-1 loss to the Twins, Trammell said, basically, the buck stops with him, and there is speculation he will be fired. But catcher Vance Wilson said that would be too easy.

"There are 25 guys in here who need to look in the mirror," he said. "You can write in the paper, "Tram this' and "Tram that,' but it's the players. We're not prepared. That's what it boils down to."

ONE MORE YEAR: Twins pitcher and Largo resident Brad Radke told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune he likely will retire after 2006, which is why he won't have surgery on a right shoulder that has been aching on and off for about two years.

Still, Radke likely will pitch his ninth year with at least 200 innings and hopefully be ready for the final year of a two-year, $18-million contract.

"You have to go out there whether you're hurt or not," he said.

Radke, 33 next month, said he pushed himself to help the Twins to the playoffs. With that hope dashed, he said there are no guarantees he will stay in the rotation after Monday's start in Oakland.

"In between starts I feel terrible," he said. "I haven't thrown a bullpen (session) this whole second half. It would do more harm than good at this point."

A ROYAL PAIN: Royals GM Allard Baird said last week that the team has entered Phase II of its rebuilding plan.

"We are at the point we need to add pieces to our core group," he said. "We spent the whole year evaluating our young players and learning their strengths and weaknesses."

Here, thanks to the Kansas City Star, is some of what they saw this season while compiling the worst record in the majors, and a few nuggets from the recent past:

Outfielder Chip Ambres dropped a popup to lose a game.

David DeJesus and Angel Berroa started a game by batting out of order.

Desi Relaford was picked off first base after he fell.

Lost a game when pitcher Jeremy Affeldt slipped on a rosin bag.

First baseman Ken Harvey was hit in the back of the head with a relay throw, got tangled up with a tarp and threw a ball off pitcher Jason Grimsley's face.

"Next year," Baird said, "is more about results."

RECORD BREAKING: Indians starter Kevin Millwood (8-11, 3.02 ERA) might do something that hasn't been done in 103 years, lead the American League in earned-run average while winning fewer than 10 games. According to the News-Herald of Willoughby, Ohio, the last and only AL pitcher to do so was Detroit's Ed Siever (8-11, 1.91) in 1902.

ET CETERA: There is much speculation Yankees GM Brian Cashman will walk away at the end of the season. ... Officially, the Mets haven't made a decision on whether catcher Mike Piazza will be back next season but the "Mike Piazza Mets Moments" showing on the Shea Stadium scoreboard should give you a hint. ... Cubs starter Greg Maddux was 12-12 entering Saturday with three starts remaining, meaning his streak of 17 consecutive 15-win seasons is in grave danger. Manager Dusty Baker is considering giving Maddux an extra start, but Maddux may not take it. "As far as I'm concerned I've had my chances," he said after Monday's loss. "You've got to play the game right."

[Last modified September 18, 2005, 02:15:36]


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