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Cornejo's Spring Struggles

Nate Cornejo's third consecutive subpar start Saturday hasn't threatened his spot as the fifth starter in the rotation, but it has Cornejo worried nonetheless.

"It's a lot," Cornejo said of the pressure he's feeling. "I'm usually a guy who doesn't put a lot of pressure on myself."

Cornejo's ERA dropped after Saturday's loss to the Royals, though only to 9.28. He has given up 21 hits in 10 2/3 innings, with 10 hits coming Saturday over 4 2/3 innings.

Garner's reaction remains the same, that Cornejo has his role sealed.

"[Cornejo's former coaches] say he has horrible springs," Garner said. "He hasn't had a good one, that's for sure. I'd like to see him do a little better than that, but I'm not panicked yet."

Cornejo's problem heading into Saturday was his location, though he has walked just three batters. While he found the strike zone against the Royals, he found the middle of it too often. He said it's a general problem rather than any specific pitch.

He was a 20-game winner last season - 16 at the minor leagues, four at Detroit - and pitched two shutout innings in his Spring Training debut, so the Tigers have seen him at his best. But Cornejo, while upbeat, doesn't want to live on that while hobbling into a full-time role.

"I think I need [a good outing]. I don't want to go into the season like this," he said. "I want to go out on a good note."

Moehler nearing full speed

Brian Moehler thinks he has the velocity for a return to the Majors, though he's sticking to his rehab timetable as he recovers from rotator cuff surgery.

"I could go out there and pitch with what I have," Moehler said, "velocity-wise, not location-wise."

Moehler threw two "innings" of batting practice Sunday, similar to the 42 pitches he tossed Wednesday, and felt good. Sunday included a nasty pitch in the dirt that caught Ryan Jackson swinging.

"I thought his control and velocity were there," said Mitch Meluskey, who caught Sunday's batting practice session. "It's encouraging for me to see."

Moehler's next step will be a longer stint on the mound for batting practice Friday. The plan remains to pitch him in a simulated game sometime after that, with a targeted return to Detroit in June.

"I think June is very conservative and very safe to say," Moehler said.

Rivera makes a strong case for catcher

Tigers beat the Braves 4-2

LAKELAND, Mich. (AP) _ Rookie Mike Rivera, one of four candidates for the Detroit's starting catching job, doubled twice off Greg Maddux, and Damion Easley was 3-for-3 with a homer, as the Tigers beat the Atlanta Braves 4-2 Tuesday. Rivera's second double capped a three-run fourth inning. Craig Paquette singled home the first two runs after a two-out error by second baseman Marcus Giles.

"When you face a guy like Maddux, I know it's just spring training, but it's a great feeling to get a couple of hits against him," said Rivera, 25, who has never played above Double-A. "This is my first time to ever face a pitcher of that caliber."

It might not be his last. Rivera is competing with Mitch Meluskey, Brandon Inge and Javier Cardona for the starting catching job, and he's making an impression on manager Phil Garner and his teammates.

"The guy can flat-out hit," Easley said. "I don't know how he is behind the plate, but it looks like he can definitely hit." Rivera threw out Rafael Furcal trying to steal in the first inning. He also doubled off Maddux to lead off the third but did not score.

In four spring games, Rivera has a .357 average with two doubles and a home run. At Double-A Erie last year, he hit .289 with 33 home runs and 101 RBIs.

Detroit starter Jeff Weaver allowed seven singles in 4 2-3 innings before being removed after reaching his pitch limit of 65 pitches. He worked out of a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the fourth, retiring Wes Helms on a popup to first base then getting Eddie Perez to hit into a double play.

Atlanta scored both of its runs in the sixth off Bill Simas. B.J. Surhoff led off the inning with a homer and Furcal added an RBI single.

For the second straight day, Detroit's Dean Palmer, who had shoulder surgery last year, was scratched from the lineup as the DH.

He was scratched Monday when he felt a twinge of pain in his right shoulder while taking grounders before the game. His shoulder was fine Tuesday, but he woke up with a stiff neck, Garner said.

Redman continues to impress

LAKELAND, Fla. (AP) _ Mark Redman pitched four scoreless innings and six players drove in runs as the Detroit Tigers defeated a Boston split-squad 6-3 Sunday.

Redman allowed three singles and struck out five in his third outing of the spring. "He continues to show good stuff," Tigers manager Phil Garner said.

The Tigers acquired Redman last season from Minnesota, but he made just two appearances because of a knee injury that required surgery in September. He's had no problems with his knee this spring and will be either the third or fourth starter in the Tigers' rotation. "He's a left-hander, and that's a plus," Garner said. "Plus, he's a guy who has won in the majors." Redman was 12-9 with Minnesota in 2000.

He was aided Sunday by a good defensive play in right field by Robert Fick, a former catcher who's making the switch to the outfield this year. Fick made a running catch on a line drive hit by Boston's Johnny Damon down the right-field line. It was the second straight day Fick has made a good catch in the outfield after misplaying a couple of balls earlier in the spring.

"I'm sure he's getting more confidence out there," Garner said. "He made a nice play (Sunday) and he had a good play (Saturday), but I'm also sure he'll hit a run where he'll see some tough balls, too." Fick is also having a good spring at the plate. He was 1-for-2 with an RBI single in a four-run third inning, extending his hitting streak to eight games and raising his spring average to .440.

Detroit's Shane Halter also extended his spring hitting streak to eight games with a run-scoring double in the second inning. Halter was 1-for-3 and is batting .500 this spring.

Boston starter Frank Castillo, who's competing for the fifth spot in the Red Sox's rotation, gave up five hits and five runs in three innings.

Craig Paquette and Dmitri Young singled home runs in the four-run third off Castillo. Dean Palmer drove in the other run with a sacrifice fly.

Boston scored three in the fifth off Detroit's Joe Valentine, two on Jose Offerman's first home run of the spring.

Detroit's Damion Easley doubled home a run in the sixth off Rolando Arrojo.

Cornejo gets Shelled, Tigs lose 8-1

KISSIMMEE, Fla. (AP) _ The Houston Astros scored five runs in the first inning Wednesday on Jeff Bagwell's three-run homer and outfield prospect Jason Lane's two-run homer and went on to defeat the Detroit Tigers 8-1.

The Tigers gave permission for Bagwell to play as a designated hitter rather than first base since his surgically repaired right shoulder isn't ready for him to play the field. He went 2-for-4 with the homer and an RBI double.

Righthander Tim Redding and lefthander Carlos Hernandez continued their battle for the fifth spot in the Houston rotation. Redding started and scattered two hits and one run with one strikeout over three innings. Hernandez, 21, scattered two hits and one walk with two strikeouts over three scoreless innings.

Nate Cornejo was the Tigers' starter and suffered the loss. He gave up five hits and six runs, five earned, with one walk over two innings.

Tigers top Yankees, 5-3

LAKELAND, Fla. - Dmitri Young singled and doubled to raise his average to .615 and drove in a run, bringing his RBI total to six in his five games, in the Detroit Tigers' 5-3 decision over a New York Yankees split squad Tuesday night. The Tigers batted around in a four-run first off left-hander Sterling Hitchcock, who walked four and gave up four hits in two innings. Tigers starter Mark Redman left in the third inning after being struck in the left knee by an Enrique Wilson bouncer.

Tigers notes: Eric Munson cost the Tigers a run in the fifth inning when he missed third base as he tried to score on Shane Halter's single. The Yankees appealed and Munson was called out. "He wasn't even close," Tigers Manager Phil Garner said. ... Craig Wilson continues to impress in an effort to win a utility job. His two-out single in the first scored Young and Dean Palmer. ... A near capacity crowd of 6,629 attended the game at Joker Marchant Stadium. ... Shane Halter extended his hitting streak to five games.

Redman leaves start after getting hit on knee

LAKELAND, Fla. - The Detroit Tigers received a scare in the third inning Tuesday night when left-hander Mark Redman had to leave a start against the New York Yankees after being struck in the left knee by an Enrique Wilson hard grounder.

Redman, who was the winning pitcher in the Tigers' 4-3 triumph over a Yankees' split squad, said it was not serious, although it was the same knee that required surgery last year. "I feel I'll be back on the mound throwing on the side in a few days and be in the weight room tomorrow," Redman said. "I don't feel like it's going to be any setback. I was able to walk without a limp." Redman was led immediately to the trainer's room after Wilson's infield single and had his knee wrapped in the clubhouse.

"It hit the kneecap, but it was a two-hopper," Redman said. "They were just taking precautionary measures." Redman said if it was a regular season game, he could have remained in to pitch. "I tried to move my body to get my glove where it was coming at, but it hit my knee," he said. "I didn't know where the ball was. I didn't know if it shot in air or what. I picked the ball up and tried to make the play, but I probably should have just ate the ball and not tried to make a throw.

"The only thing going that went through my mind was that I was out of the game. I think even if I didn't get hit, I was done for the day. I was at my pitch count." Redman's threw 49 pitches, one under his pitch limit. "I knew I had 15 pitches going into that inning," Redman said. "I was trying to get everyone out real quick." Tigers manager Phil Garner said he "was pleased" with Redman's outing. "He did what he wanted to do for a couple of starts," Garner said. "That was a good sign." In his first start, Redman allowed a run on two hits and a walk in a no-decision against Pittsburgh.

A healthy Redman should be the Tigers' No. 3 or No. 4 starter when the season opens. He spent most of last season on the disabled list with a strained left triceps and a slight meniscus tear behind his left knee, which would require surgery on Sept. 5. He made only two starts for the Tigers after they acquired him in a July 28 trade with the Twins for Todd Jones.

"It is always in the back of your mind," Redman said of the surgery. "There's always concern is it going to be healthy, is it going to hold up, but [with] the work I did in the offseason to get it strong, I feel really confident coming in." Redman held the Yankees to one infield single, walked one and struck out two before Wilson bounced one off his knee.

"For my second outing, not too bad," he said. "They were hitting ground balls here and there. I was spotting my fastball. I fell behind a couple of guys, but I came right back with strikes." Redman went a combined 2-6 in 11 starts with Minnesota and Detroit last season. He also made four rehab starts in the minors. "I feel pretty confident," Redman said. "I came to Spring Training ready to pitch and I feel pretty good. I feel like I'm hitting my spots with my fastball."

Now if he can just avoid getting hit on the knee.

Greisinger Returns to the Mound

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Seth Greisinger, who hasn't pitched the past two years because of elbow injuries and threw only 12 1/3 innings in 1999 before having ligament replacement surgery, tossed an inning Sunday for Detroit in the Tigers' 14-9 slugfest triumph over the Cleveland Indians.

Greisinger gave up five runs on four hits, including a three-run home run to Ellis Burks, and two walks.

"I think just being out there was good for him," Tigers manager Phil Garner said. "You've got to have some rewards. You just can't keep going rehab, rehab, rehab with enthusiasm. I applaud him."

Greisinger was glad to be pitching again.

"As ugly as it was, it was better than lifting weights in the gym," he said.

Greisinger starred on the 1996 United States Olympic Team and was the Tigers' first-round pick that year. He was to be the cornerstone of their rotation, somebody they could build around. After 38 games in the minors, Greisinger was in the Majors by June 3, 1998 and on the operating table the next June.

Garner said Greisinger would start the season in the minors.

Medial reports
Reliever Danny Patterson has spasms in the middle of his back and is expected to be out five to seven days.

Third baseman/outfielder Craig Paquette sat out the game with a knot in the middle of his back, but should be ready to play in a couple of days. Craig Wilson filled in for Paquette at third and tripled and singled.

Outfielder Wendell Magee bruised a knee when he banged into the fence Saturday at Chain of Lakes Park at Winter Haven and did not play Sunday.

Center fielder Jose Macias was scratched from the lineup with a groin injury and was replaced by rookie Andres Torres, who had two hits, scored two runs, knocked in a run and swiped a base.

B-game pitching blues
The Tigers lost a morning 'B' game to the Indians, 17-7, at Winter Haven. Knuckleballer Steve Sparks started and pitched two innings. He gave up four unearned runs in the first.

Non-roster right-hander Terry Pearson was torched for nine runs on nine hits and two walks in 1 1/3 innings. Jared Camp, another non-roster right-hander, permitted four runs on five hits in 1 2/3 innings.

"We didn't pitch good," said Garner. "Everything was in the middle of the plate and they didn't miss it. Fifteen balls were hit over the outfielders' heads and I might be conservative."

3/2/2002 10:37 am ET LAKELAND, Fla. -- Manager Phil Garner wants Jose Macias to take more walks and hike his on-base percentage as the Detroit Tigers leadoff hitter. Macias did just that Friday in a 5-3 11-inning exhibition victory over the Kansas City Royals. Macias singled, walked three times, scored a pair of runs, stole a base and drove in a run. "He was patient at the plate and nursed a couple of walks," Garner said. "He stole a base at an important time of the game." Macias, who swiped 21 bases last year, stole second in the seventh and scored the tying run when Kansas City shortstop Angel Berroa made a fielding miscue. Macias walked only 32 times in 137 games last season and had a .316 on-base percentage. "It's awfully tough to teach kids to be more selective hitters, awfully tough," Garner said. "Fernando Vina did it for me in Milwaukee. He went from a leadoff swinger to a leadoff good hitter. It took two years, but if finally sunk in. It doesn't happen a lot. "Macias is a tough-minded kid and he'll try. I would like to see him do what he did today do all season." Garner has challenged Macias to raise his on-base percentage to least .350. "That's the goal," Garner said. "I don't care how he does it. If he hits .200 and walks enough to get a .350 on-base percentage, that is okay. If he hits .340 and walks enough to get to .350, either way to get to .350 I don't care. "Teams that win and score a lot, have high on-base percentages."

Who was that?
Jorge Meran, who hit the two-run walk-off 11th inning home run, is in the Tigers' minor league camp, not even a non-roster invitee to spring training. With the Tigers playing a split-squad Friday, they brought Meran over for the big league game against the Royals as an emergency back up. After starter Javier Cardona caught 10 innings, Garner thought that was enough and inserted Meran. In the top of the 11th, Meran threw out pinch runner Rontrez Johnson attempting to steal second. In the bottom of the inning, he blasted a Brad Voyles pitch over the left-field wall with Craig Monroe aboard. "He made the great play to throw out a runner in the top of the inning," Garner said. "I turned to my coaches when he came to the plate and said, 'Jorge could have a day in one inning if he hits a double here and lets Monroe score.' "And bam, no sooner had I got the words out of my mouth and he hits it out. What a day for him. It was a perfect day for him." Meran was a backup with Class AAA Toledo and Class AA Erie last year, playing in just 42 games. Meran almost did not make the big league game. "I wrote (Maxim) St. Pierre (another minor league catcher) on the card first," Garner said. "Somebody said they thought Meran was injured, that he fouled a ball off his foot and couldn't come."

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