Brennan Boesch

Tigers’ Brennan Boesch Rises to the Lefty Challenge

Leyland impressed by rightfielder’s double in late at-bat

LAKELAND, Fla. — Tigers manager Jim Leyland gave rightfielder Brennan Boesch one challenge against a left-hander
Monday, then announced he’ll give him another Opening Day.

In Monday’s eighth inning, Leyland let Boesch – who’s played the whole game – face Miami’s Randy Choate, an 11 year
veteran who throws from a nasty sidearm angle.

Boesch took that big, beautiful left-handed swing of his and drilled Choate’s pitch over the centerfie1der’s head for a doubie.

I was really proud of him, because I was on him from the bench,”
Leyland said. “I could have run a right-hander up there. But he’s going to play. 1 threw him a iittle challenge: ‘Grind out this at-bat.You’ve got a left-hender throwing from where (Choate) does.‘

He really showed me something.”

Then Leyiand said “as it stands right now,” Boesch would start in the opener a week from Thursday against Boston’s Jon Lester,one of the league’s ace left-handers.

Boesch didn’t start when the Tigers opened the season last year against another top lefty, the Yankees‘ CC Sabathia. That‘s when Boesch was coming off the almost silent second half of his rookie season

Now he’s coming off a year in which he largely established himself (and was missed in the playoffs because of his thumb surgery), Monday, he showed how good he has become at hitting left-handers of different varieties. in the first inning, Boesch faced Mark Baehrle – a move-it-around craftsman, a totally different pitcher than Choate – and launched a high homer that cleared the palm trees beyond the rightfield fence and landed atop the enclosed batting cage How appropriate after this roof shot for Leyland to say that Boesch, 26, has “a real high ceiling.”

Leyland said Oliver will start for a Tigers‘ split squad against the Mets on Sunday, and Smyly will start against

Toronto on Monday in the second-to-tast game of the exhibition season. So the fifth-starter there by might go to the finish, Duane Below, who allowed one run to the Yankees in a start Sunday is the third contender for the open
rotation spot.

ROSTER MOVES: The Tigers sent six players to minor league camp Monday: right-handers Jacob
Turner and Chris Bootcheck;infieiders Audy Ciriaco, Argenis Diaz and Ryan Strieby; and outfielder Quintin Berry.Turner, ranked as the Tigers‘ top prospect by Baseball America, fell out of the running for the rotation opening when he was sidelined by tendinitis in his pitching arm.