Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Tigers, too, have something to play for this month -- but it's personal

    The long-shot White Sox plucked Manny Ramirez, a major league problem child with Hall of Fame credentials, off the waiver wire, renting him for the rest of the season for $3.8 million. The front-running Minnesota Twins have bolstered their suspect bullpen, picking up proven relievers Matt Capps and Brian Fuentes.
    Meanwhile, on Wednesday, the Tigers summoned career minor league catcher Max St. Pierre and recalled right-handed reliever Robbie Weinhardt.
    Therein lies the difference between the true contenders and the also-rans.
    And it's a big difference.
    Another day, another rookie. Or two.
    In case you haven't noticed, on most nights the Tigers' starting lineup now includes four or five freshmen.
    While the Twins battle to hang on to the lead in the American league Central, and the ChiSox struggle to catch them, the Tigers, veterans as well as rookies, are auditioning for 2011.
    Veterans Johnny Damon, Jeremy Bonderman and Brandon Inge hope to convince the Tigers, meaning Dave Dombrowski and Jim Leyland, to bring them back next season.
    Rookies, such Will Rhymes and Casper Wells, and trying to prove that they belong in the big leagues.
    The Tigers, too, have something to play for this month -- but it is personal, not the postseason.
    For some, such as Magglio Ordonez and Carlos Guillen, this will be a season to forget.
    But for St. Pierre, who has toiled in the bush leagues since 1997, pursuing a dream that has long seemed impossible, this will be a year to remember.
    St. Pierre's call-up came a couple of days early because of Gerald Laird's lingering back spasms.
    Those who know St. Pierre, those who played with him in the minors, applauded the decision as well-deserved.
    But the fact remains, if the Tigers were still in the pennant chase, they would look at this last month of the season a lot differently.


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