Carlos Guillen “more and more likely” to be ready for Opening Day

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As you may recall, Carlos Guillen underwent microfracture surgery on his left knee last September due to an injury suffered on a takeout slide by Brett Gardner last August. There isn’t much of a track record as far as microfracture success stories in MLB, but it sounds as though Guillen is making good progress thus far.

In December, Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski told Tony Paul of the Detroit News that Guillen’s doctor was “very pleased” with his recovery and felt that he was ahead of schedule.

“Right now, the projections are that he would play — this is what the doctor said — in the middle part of spring training,” Dombrowski said. “But I think from our aspect of it, you have to say it’s unknown at this time. I don’t think you can say you’re counting on him to be ready for the beginning of the season.”

That was just about a month ago. Today, Jason Beck of MLB.com writes that Guillen looks “more and more likely to be ready for Opening Day,” though he acknowledges that he will likely be slowed during spring training.

Of course, we can’t just go out and assume that Guillen will be ready for the start of the season. Though the early reports are encouraging, we’re talking about someone who turned 35 years old last September and has struggled to stay healthy over each of the last three seasons. Then there’s also the matter of whether he will be able to handle playing second base. If he isn’t, Will Rhymes, Scott Sizemore and Danny Worth will likely compete for at-bats during spring training.

Guillen batted .273/.327/.419 with six home runs and 34 RBI over 253 at-bats last season. He is owed $13 million in 2011 in the final year of a four-year, $48 million contract.

Alex Wilson broke his leg on a 103-MPH comebacker

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This one is brutal. Tigers’ right-handed reliever Alex Wilson was diagnosed with a broken leg after taking a blistering 103.8-MPH line drive off of his right leg during Saturday’s game against the Twins. According to the Detroit News’ Chris McCosky, it’s a non-displaced fibular fracture, but will still warrant an extended recovery period and signal the end of Wilson’s season.

Wilson replaced Drew VerHagen to start the eighth inning and worked a full count against Joe Mauer. Mauer roped an 93.3-MPH fastball back up the middle, where it struck the pitcher on his right calf. While Mauer took first base, Wilson got to his feet and tried to toss a warm-up pitch, but was in too much pain to continue and had to be helped off the field.

Even in a season that isn’t going anywhere in particular, this isn’t how you want it to end. The Tigers have yet to announce a recovery timetable for the 30-year-old reliever, but he won’t return to the mound until 2018. He exited Saturday’s outing with a 4.35 ERA, 2.3 BB/9 and 6.3 SO/9 over 60 innings.

The Tigers currently trail the Twins 10-3 in the bottom of the ninth inning.

Yankees defeat Blue Jays to clinch postseason spot

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The Yankees guaranteed their place in the postseason with a 5-1 win over the Blue Jays on Saturday. Sonny Gray led the charge against their division rivals, clinching his 10th win of the season with six innings of four-hit, one-run, four-strikeout ball.

Gray worked into a little trouble in the first inning, putting runners in scoring position after Josh Donaldson drew a four-pitch walk and Justin Smoak advanced him with a single. The Yankees’ ace induced two quick outs to end the threat, but was overpowered by a Teoscar Hernandez home run in the third inning, the rookie’s fourth blast of the season:

Thankfully for the Yankees, that was the only run that slipped through the cracks. Gray finished the remainder of his outing with two hits and two walks and was backed by another three scoreless innings from the bullpen. Greg Bird supplied the go-ahead run with a three-RBI shot in the fifth inning, plating Chase Headley and Starlin Castro to give the Yankees their first lead of the night.

Todd Frazier tacked on another solo homer in the eighth, while Starlin Castro returned in the ninth to cap the win with an RBI single. Aroldis Chapman did the rest, wielding just 10 pitches to get three straight outs from Kendrys Morales, Kevin Pillar and Rob Refsnyder.

Following Saturday’s win, the Yankees have at least secured one wild card berth, though they’re not out of the division race just yet. They still sit a full four games back of first place in the AL East, with eight games left to play.