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Morning Prowl: D-Train on Sunday, Eyeing Brad Hawpe, Signing Daniel Fields, and Rookie of the Year Talk

If you missed it before last night's game, the Tigers announced that Dontrelle Willis will pitch on Sunday, in the fifth spot of the starting rotation. That means Jeremy Bonderman will work out of the bullpen for now. It's difficult to argue with that decision, given how Bondo pitched on Monday night versus the D-Train fighting through knee pain on Tuesday. Ultimately, it came down to whether or not Willis's knee was healthy (though Leyland also cited concern about Bonderman's slider - or lack thereof.)

I agree with Billfer, however. Bonderman needs to throw more innings, and pitching in relief won't accomplish that. So he'll probably have to go to the minors. Once the 10-day minimum on Ryan Perry's minor league assignment expires, the Tigers could make that move.

Ken Rosenthal says contending teams might be looking to pick at the carcass of the Colorado Rockies to help bolster their rosters. (Remind us again - how did those guys win two of three in Detroit?) Many in Tiger Town would love to see Brad Hawpe (who a scout says is "feasting on bad pitching," according to Jon Heyman) in the Olde English D, and he's one of the names that will surely be available.

Rosenthal, however, mentions that Detroit is one of three teams that has inquired about Ryan Spilborghs, who would be a much cheaper option (and more versatile, as he can play all three outfield positions). This season, Spilborghs is hitting .259/.323/.435 with five homers, 26 RBIs, and six stolen bases.

Here's something that could make Hawpe an even more attractive trade option, however. According to the Denver Post (which also reported the Tigers' interest in Spilborghs), he would void his 2011 contract option (worth $10 million) if traded, and become a free agent after next season. Hawpe's salary for 2010 is $7.5 million.

(via MLB Trade Rumors)

Could we see Brandon Lyon begin to pitch more often? Jim Leyland indicated his role would be changing to get him "more active," while acknowledging that Lyon has to keep pitching well to justify that kind of use.

Remember all the amazement over Prince Fielder cranking a batting practice homer at Tiger Stadium when he was 12 years old? (Has that story actually been dispelled?) New Tigers draft pick Daniel Fields did the same, but at Comerica Park while his father, Bruce Fields, was Detroit's hitting coach.

The Tigers will probably have to pay above slot to keep Fields from playing shortstop at Michigan next season, which is likely the reason he lasted until the sixth round. (I confess that has me conflicted as a fan of both baseball teams, though I'd probably favor the pro guys more.)

Here's a rundown of the Tigers' other second-day draft picks, including Texas reliever Austin Wood, who's become semi-legendary for throwing 169 pitches in 13 innings (and a day after throwing 30 pitches!) in a NCAA tournament game just under two weeks ago. (Keith Law called the Longhorns' baseball coach "reckless, selfish, and incompetent" for using Wood like that.)

At Fangraphs, Marc Hulet distills the AL Rookie of the Year race down to Rick Porcello and Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus. (Does Matt Wieters know about this?) So if it's between those two (and a few other names should probably be in the discussion), which of them is the current favorite for the award?

If you have questions about when teams must sign their draft picks by (excepting college seniors) - and this would definitely apply to the Tigers and Jacob Turner - MLB Trade Rumors reminds us that the deadline is August 17. They also have information on what happens to the players that don't sign.