DETROIT — Dave Dombrowski realizes the offseason is never over until opening day.
That was certainly the case last year, when the Detroit general manager brought slugger Prince Fielder to the Tigers in late January.
This offseason has been quieter in Detroit, but Dombrowski keeps his ears open for possible acquisitions even now, with spring training set to start in a couple of weeks.
“It doesn't change all year long, really. It's one of those things — even when you're away at the holidays, you have a pulse of what's taking place,” Dombrowski said. “There's still some players that haven't signed with clubs, and any time there's a move, there's sometimes an extra reaction to that, a chain reaction.”
The Tigers were part of that scenario last year when they learned in mid-January that designated hitter Victor Martinez had a knee injury that would eventually cause him to miss the whole 2012 season. Detroit responded by signing Fielder to a $214 million, nine-year contract. He was introduced at Comerica Park last Jan. 26.
The biggest move the Tigers made this offseason was re-signing one of their own players. They brought right-hander Anibal Sanchez back with a long-term contract. Sanchez's return gives Detroit six potential starting pitchers, but so far none of them has been traded.
Right-hander Rick Porcello and left-hander Drew Smyly are expected to compete for the fifth spot in the rotation if they're both still with the organization when spring training starts.
The Tigers didn't acquire a clear-cut replacement for closer Jose Valverde, who was let go after last season. Bruce Rondon could fill that role after a stellar year in the minors, but he's unproven.
Although Rondon could be a major part of Detroit's bid for a third straight AL Central title, the Tigers can be patient with Nick Castellanos, a 20-year-old outfielder who hit .320 in 134 games at Class A and Double-A last season.
Andy Dirks, Brennan Boesch and Quintin Berry — all left-handed hitters — are expected to compete for the left field spot, but Castellanos and Avisail Garcia swing from the right side and will have a chance to earn playing time.
“We're looking for a right-handed complement,” Dombrowski said. “Garcia and Castellanos I think both fall under the same category. They'll come to spring training with an opportunity to make the club, but we're also in a position where if they're going to make the club, they're going to have to play a lot. So we're not going to give them 40 games and a limited number of at-bats.”
Pavano’s spleen removed after falling in snow
Carl Pavano's spleen was removed last week after he was injured when he fell in the snow.
The 37-year-old right-hander was hurt in mid-January at his home in Vermont and has been in a Connecticut hospital for nearly two weeks.
“He lost a lot of blood. It was very, very serious,” agent David Pepe said Monday.
Pepe said Pavano didn't think he was seriously injured after the fall, then didn't feel well following a workout a few days later in Connecticut.
“He felt bad enough that he went to the hospital and he ended up getting admitted, and they realized he had a lacerated spleen,” Pepe said. “They tried to control the bleeding. They did all they could to not take it out and, unfortunately, he didn't stop bleeding and he's been in the hospital since.”
Pepe hopes Pavano will be released from the hospital this week. He would not put a timetable on the free agent's possible return to baseball.
“To be quite honest, I think he's very fortunate that he caught this thing. He had the presence of mind to go to a hospital,” Pepe said. “It could have been a lot worse. He's just got to get his strength back and worry about baseball later.”
Pavano spent the past 3.5 seasons with the Minnesota Twins, going 2-5 with a 6.00 ERA in 11 starts last year. He didn't pitch after June 1 because of a strained right shoulder.
Jeter returns to fieldfor first time since injury
TAMPA — Derek Jeter has worked out on a baseball field for the first time since breaking his left ankle last October.
The 38-year-old New York Yankees captain fielder 55 grounders on the grass in front of the infield dirt at shortstop Monday at the team's minor league complex. He also hit in a batting cage. “Everything went well,” Jeter says.
The 13-time All-Star expects to start in New York's opener against Boston on April 1. This is the time of year Jeter usually starts his onfield pre-spring training routine.
Jeter broke the ankle lunging for a grounder in the AL championship series opener against Detroit on Oct. 13. He had surgery a week later, and the Yankees said recovery time would be four to five months.
Jeter has been walking on an underwater treadmill at the team's facility since early January.
Phillies, Durbin agreeto 1-year contract
PHILADELPHIA — A person familiar with the deals says the Phillies have signed veteran reliever Chad Durbin to a one-year contract. Durbin returns to Philadelphia, where he played a key role in the bullpen on the 2008 World Series championship team. The deal is pending a physical, according to the person who spoke on condition of anonymity because the team didn't make an official announcement.
Durbin was 4-1 with a 3.10 ERA in a career-high 76 games for Atlanta last season.
The righty was 5-4 with a career-best 2.87 ERA in 71 appearances with the Phillies in ‘08. He left Philadelphia after the 2010 season and posted a 5.53 ERA in Cleveland in 2011 before returning to the NL with the Braves.
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