Notes: Maroth off playoff roster

Notes: Maroth off playoff roster

DETROIT -- Manager Jim Leyland hesitated for a couple seconds when asked whether making cuts from a postseason roster is as difficult as making cuts in Spring Training. This is why.

Mike Maroth was around for the Tigers in the bad times, many times taking the mound during them. He'll be around for the best of times in the playoffs, but he won't be in uniform for them. Leyland started whittling down the possibilities for his playoff roster Wednesday, telling about a half-dozen players they would be left off. Among them was Maroth, who didn't fit into a bullpen that already has three other left-handed relievers vying for spots.

"It breaks my heart that he will not be on the postseason roster," Leyland said. "But I just don't think under the circumstances that that's the way we should go at this time."

He could still be added to the roster if the Tigers advance, since teams can change their rosters after each round. Barring that, however, it's an abrupt end for what should've been a year of redemption for the left-hander who took the mound for the Tigers for 21 losses three years ago but had five wins just over a month into this season.

Maroth was 5-2 with a 2.18 ERA for the Tigers after his first seven starts. He took a no-decision in a quality start May 20 against the Reds, then he was knocked out with six runs in one-third of an inning May 25 at Kansas City. The bone chips that were floating in his left elbow finally had become too much to pitch through, and he underwent surgery at the start of June to remove them.

Maroth battled back to put himself in position to rejoin the rotation in late August, but lingering irritation in his elbow wouldn't subside, and he couldn't tell Leyland with confidence that he could start again as hoped.

Since then, it has been a September to forget. He tossed two scoreless innings in a loss at Minnesota on Sept. 8, but he yielded five runs over his next two outings, including a three-run ninth in last Saturday's 15-4 win at Kansas City.

"It's been fine," Maroth said of his elbow before Leyland announced the news. "Obviously I haven't pitched much, as far as testing it. But it's been fine all the way through. Every day I play catch, most of the time long-toss every day, and it feels good. So I'm ready to pitch every time -- just wait for that time to get up and go at it."

Understandably, however, the struggles couldn't have helped.

Maroth did not want to comment after Leyland revealed his decision. Before that, however, he basically said the decision is out of his hands.

"I just wait until I'm told to go in the game," Maroth said. "I do that, and go out and do my job. We'll see. I just do what I'm supposed to do. I'm trying to do everything I can to show that I'm healthy -- go out there and pitch as well as I can. That's all I can do. The decision's not mine."

Leyland said Maroth's performance had nothing to do with his decision.

"I'm sure that I broke a heart," Leyland said. "Truthfully, I feel terrible about it myself, because he's been here and went through the tough times and he's a big part of what we've done. Had he not had the injuries, we would not even be having this discussion. But that's not my fault, either. It's just the way it is.

"In Mike's opinion, he could help, and I respect that. In my opinion, at this time, that would not be the proper way to go. That's what I get paid for. I don't put it on anybody but myself."

Teammates, especially those who were around Maroth in 2003, felt broken-hearted about it, too.

"It's a tough break, and I feel bad for him," Jeremy Bonderman said. "But this is a business, like everything else. It's a tough decision to make. I'd be very disappointed if I was in his shoes. It's definitely not a fun thing."

At this point, there aren't many more tough calls to make. Leyland said he basically is down to one more decision in finalizing his roster. Though Leyland said Chris Shelton probably will make the roster, both Ramon Santiago and Alexis Gomez said they've yet to be told if they're in. Those three players would appear to be vying for two spots, though Gomez appears more likely as a spare outfielder.

Leyland again said Wednesday he still is looking at rookie Andrew Miller for a possible spot on the 11-man postseason pitching staff. To get it, however, Miller probably would have to beat out one of the longer-tenured relievers, which includes swing lefty Wilfredo Ledezma and righties Zach Miner and Jason Grilli.

"That's not for me to worry about," Miller said. "I certainly think it's exciting, but there's tons of guys who have proven themselves for much longer times than I have. I'm ready, but it's not my decision to make. The only thing I can do now is to make it a tough decision for them."

Leading off: Leyland said earlier this month he might try Placido Polanco in the leadoff spot once he came back from his separated left shoulder. With Ted Lilly on the mound for Toronto and at least one more nasty left-handed starter awaiting them in the Division Series next week, Leyland gave it a shot Wednesday, putting Polanco up top after two games batting ninth.

"It's a situation I want to look at," Leyland said, "preferably for [Barry] Zito or [Randy] Johnson."

In that situation, Polanco's quick swing and right-handed bat could come in handy. But Leyland emphasized that Curtis Granderson still will play against those lefties.

"[Granderson is] playing center field," Leyland said. "He's going to have to fight one of those two guys, but it's probably one game."

It's not the only experiment. Leyland also started Shelton at first base in place of Sean Casey, hoping Shelton could balance out the lineup.

Magglio update: Magglio Ordonez said Wednesday his back was "pretty good" after leaving Tuesday night's game with lower back spasms. Leyland put him back in the starting lineup in right field.

Coming up: The Tigers will finish their three-game set against the Blue Jays on Thursday with a 1:05 p.m. ET matinee. Kenny Rogers (17-6, 3.63 ERA) will make his final regular-season start opposite Toronto right-hander A.J. Burnett (9-8, 3.83), possibly the toughest pitcher Detroit will face all week.

Jason Beck is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.