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Leyland's Expecting No Fernando For Opening Day

In what is likely a precautionary, CYA sort of measure, Tigers manager Jim Leyland told reporters that he is not expecting reliever Fernando Rodney to be ready for Opening Day.

"It's unlikely that Rodney's going to be ready, in my opinion," Leyland said. "Now, is that etched in stone? No. But I would think that's unlikely. I'm not going to push that envelope until he's right. The clock's ticking. There is a possibility that he could, but I think as the minutes go by, I think that's less likely."

Rodney did go through his scheduled throwing session this morning, working off the mound for the first time in more than three weeks. Jason Beck reports that he threw fastballs and change-ups (totalling 40 pitches) for around 10 minutes without any pain or discomfort. Afterwards, Rodney said he "felt loose," which is really what all of us should shoot for in our daily lives. He'll play catch tomorrow and is scheduled to throw another bullpen session on Saturday.

So if Rodney isn't ready for the March 31 opener vs. Kansas City, the Tigers have two spots in their bullpen available, with six candidates bidding to fill them. Todd Jones, Jason Grilli, Tim Byrdak, Bobby Seay, and Zach Miner are already in, and Denny Bautista sure looks like he'll be joining the big league club in Detroit. Leyland says whomever substitutes for Rodney will be a right-handed reliever. Does that mean good news for Yorman Bazardo (who was already out of options)?

UPDATE: Beck says Freddy Dolsi is a longshot, but shouldn't be counted out of the bullpen mix. Pitching almost entirely with Lakeland last season, the 25-year-old right-hander posted a 5-3 record and 3.42 ERA, with 44 strikeouts in 52 2/3 innings.