Notes: Monster isn't only trick at Fenway
Granderson having a bit of trouble reading ball off the bat
BOSTON -- Curtis Granderson doesn't have a lot of ballparks that bother him on fly balls, but the ones that do usually don't have a lot of slope to the stands coming up from field level. Fenway isn't one of those parks, but the hitters gave him some trouble.
Three times on Monday night, Granderson said, he didn't get a good initial read on a line drive hit his way. All three times, he believes, were the result of the hitters not getting good contact on a ball. Usually, those types of balls are a good sign for pitchers, but this time, they were trouble for a center fielder who will sometimes make his first reaction based on the swing.
The first ball of the game was a leadoff single by Julio Lugo that was going to fall anyway. Two innings later, Lugo hit another line drive to center, this one requiring a diving catch from Granderson. Then in the fourth, Coco Crisp's fourth-inning liner fell beyond Granderson's reach for an RBI single.
Granderson played at Fenway last year and didn't remember having an issue seeing fly balls here. So after the game, he talked with starting pitcher Nate Robertson to get an idea what the pitches were. Two were changeups, the other was a cutter.
"Three pitches, all with big swings, but yet mishit," Granderson said. "And that's the reason I didn't seem to get a read on them, because they weren't hit hard."
A mishit ball, whether the hitter is jammed or hits it off the end of the bat, won't go as far as a ball hit on or close to the sweet spot of the bat. Yet for some reason, Granderson had more trouble with that here on Monday than he has at other parks around the league.
In fact, Fenway Park and Angels Stadium are favored parks for him because the stands slope upwards so quickly. The trick about the dimensions at Fenway is limited to how close he seems to be to the infield.
"I did seem really close throughout the majority of the game," Granderson said. "Part of it was I had runners in scoring position, I like to play in a little bit when I have a chance to make a play at home. But I felt close, and then I turned around, and the only room that was behind me was over my left shoulder, right in that deep part of center, which is comforting. If you hit it over my head, it's probably going to hit the wall, and I'm not going to catch it anyways."
Bondo still go for Friday: Jeremy Bonderman remains on schedule to start on Friday, though the Tigers are monitoring him closely to see if the blister area on his right middle finger flares up.
"He thinks all systems are go," manager Jim Leyland said.
To a large extent, the team will have to trust what Bonderman says. Bonderman said after Tuesday's game that he threw in the afternoon and felt fine.
"I would say that you have to go along with your player and your trainer," Leyland said. "If the trainer says he thinks it's OK and Bonderman says he thinks it's OK, then to me, it's OK."
Casey sits against knuckler: It wasn't really anything against Sean Casey for Leyland to sit him against knuckleballer Tim Wakefield on Tuesday night. To Leyland, the difference with Marcus Thames starting at first base was the potential for him to hit the ball with authority if he did make contact.
"He struck out quite a bit against [Wakefield]," Leyland said of Thames, 3-for-11 with eight strikeouts against Wakefield entering the night. "But we win when we pitch good and hit it over the fence, and I'm going to let Marcus take four shots at that [Green] Monster."
Thames went 1-for-3 with a strikeout before Casey entered for defensive purposes. Casey singled off Brendan Donnelly in the eighth.
Calling all relievers: The Tigers had a minor malfunction during Monday night's game when their phone to the bullpen wouldn't work. They briefly had to work with signals.
"It wasn't that big of a deal," Leyland said. "It was just frustrating, because if you get in a hurry and all of a sudden that thing's dead ... it's chaos."
As it turned out, the phone wasn't completely on the hook when it was hung up.
Clevlen out a month: Triple-A Toledo outfielder and Tigers prospect Brent Clevlen is expected to miss a month with a broken finger suffered on Sunday at Pawtucket, according to the Toledo Blade. Vince Blue was promoted to the Mud Hens roster to take his place.
Coming up: Lefty Mike Maroth (3-0, 4.69) will try for his first career win against the Red Sox, the organization that drafted him, when he takes the mound on Wednesday night. Righty Julian Tavarez (1-4, 6.60), meanwhile, will try to remain unbeaten against the Tigers. The 7:05 p.m. ET start will be shown on ESPN nationally and FSN Detroit locally.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.