Dombrowski confident in 'pen, but not ruling out move

Tigers GM doesn't see spring outings as indication of regular-season performance

Dombrowski confident in 'pen, but not ruling out move

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Tigers president/general manager Dave Dombrowski was getting ready for an end-of-spring session with beat writers on Friday morning when someone told him of a report that the club was close to acquiring a relief pitcher.

"I said, 'Well, I wish they'd call me on that,'" Dombrowski said. "And I don't know where that would even come from. But whoever said that, hey, if they've got somebody that would help us, we're open to phone calls."

They're open, Dombrowski said, but they're not active. Nor, he indicated, are they desperate. And as they head into a season with a relief corps in various states of flux -- most recently Bruce Rondon dealing with biceps tendinitis that will land him on the disabled list to start the season -- Dombrowski said they're ready. They've had a rough spring in some cases, but they're ready.

"I think when you start to overevaluate during Spring Training," Dombrowski said, "you're making a big mistake."

It's a veteran group, aside from the two youngsters that made the team Friday, rookie right-hander Angel Nesbitt and 23-year-old lefty Ian Krol. Aside from setup man Joakim Soria, who gave up two hits and no runs over 9 2/3 innings, none of the veterans had strong springs.

The Tigers, Dombrowski said, are looking more at the regular-season track record than the spring.

"I think when you're looking at veteran pitchers, when you're looking at Joe Nathan, Tom Gorzelanny, Joba Chamberlain, Joakim Soria -- these guys are getting ready for the season," Dombrowski said. "When you look at where they are now to where they've been in the past, the recent past, Nathan's stuff right now is better than it was last year. He's throwing consistently 91-92 [mph] with sink. He feels good. Soria's throwing all of his pitches. He feels good. Joba, I mean, he was up to 95 the other day, been inconsistent with his stuff. Gorzelanny finally pitched better the last couple times.

"They're ready to go. What will that translate to? Well, you'll find out Opening Day. I don't think anyone's so smart to prognosticate exactly what that means, but their stuff is as it is."

In other words, Dombrowski suggested, he hasn't seen an alarming drop in stuff that made him worry if they could get it back when the season started. Nathan's fastball velocity ranged from the upper 80s a couple weeks ago to as high as 94 on the Joker Marchant Stadium radar gun in his final tuneup Friday. His command has been more important, and it became more consistent down in the strike zone as the spring went on.

"I think they'll go out there and do the job for us," Dombrowski said. "Let's face it: The ninth and eighth innings set up the rest of it, because then you can mix and match how you want."

That falls on Nathan and Soria. With Rondon out, manager Brad Ausmus said they won't have a pitcher identified to handle the seventh, instead mixing and matching.

That said, Dombrowski didn't rule out an end-of-spring move once teams finalize rosters.

"Is there a possibility? I don't know what the next phone call will bring at this time," he said. "You never know what'll happen, but we're not actively doing anything. … You're always open-minded, but I'm not close to it or have an open discussion on it."

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.