10/23/06 8:08 PM ET
Notes: Rogers' biggest fan
Scout is the reason why Tigers signed lefty to deal in offseason
By Jason Beck / MLB.com
As Rogers answered questions from a horde of media that had surrounded him at his locker in the visitors' clubhouse at Busch Stadium on Monday, he spotted Egan speaking with a few reporters. He smiled and waved. Egan laughed.
"Now you've got me [answering questions]," Egan jokingly yelled to him.
Egan has had almost as much of a role in Rogers' surprise season in Detroit, as he had in making the southpaw into a pitcher in the first place. He was a Minor League coach along with Tom House when the Rangers were trying to convert Rogers from a former high-school infielder into a pitcher.
Two decades later, the Tigers scout recommended to his employers that they take a look at Rogers in their search for a starting pitcher on the free-agent market. He didn't have to take a long look at him to know that he could succeed at Comerica Park.
Not surprisingly, Egan came to Rogers' defense against the speculation that he was using illegal substance on his left hand to help with his pitches in Game 2 on Sunday.
"There's nothing wrong," Egan said. "I have no problem. I know everything about what he does and how he does it. They can write all the stories they want about that stuff, but there's nothing there. There's nothing there that's illegal."
After spending all year scouting opposing players and teams for the Tigers, Sunday was Egan's night to enjoy. With no team left to scout, he watched Rogers pitch in Game 2 of the World Series from the outfield seats, shivering with everyone else. He could watch him like a fan, but it felt more like watching family.
"It's like you're the father watching your son get really good," Egan said. "It's neat, really neat, especially when you know you've kind of helped."
That's how strong the relationship remains between teacher and student in this ongoing education. Egan still watches many of Rogers' outings on television, if not in person, so that he can provide tips when Rogers calls for advice. They still talk often, though there's a little less to talk about lately in terms of what to correct.
"Every time we talk, it seems like he gets a little cockier," Egan joked, "and I have to use a few more four-letter words to sit him down."
They talked again on Sunday night, except they did it in person on the team flight to St. Louis along with their wives. He suspects that they could be on this path again.
"I have no doubt whatsoever that he's going to continue to pitch very good for another year," Egan said. "We may end up with two [World Series] rings."
Getting offensive: The statistics weren't dramatically different, but Tigers hitting coach Don Slaught was happy with the changes his players made at the plate from Game 1 to Game 2, reinforcing his belief that their series-opening struggles had a lot to do with the time off.
"They didn't miss as many times as in the first game," Slaught said. "I think they were a little more aggressive early in the count, and they were swinging at strikes. I thought [Jeff] Weaver threw pretty well, too. He mixed his pitches. I think there was a little overanxiousness with the bases loaded, thinking we could put the game away. But overall, I was a lot more pleased with their approaches. But that's the difference between squaring balls up and not."
He was especially pleased with Sean Casey, who came back from a week and a half off and went hitless in the opener before striking back in Game 2.
"That's really the key to when he started turning it around [earlier in the season], being more aggressive and trusting you'll take the [pitches out of the strike zone]," Slaught said.
He could be returning to the middle of the order for Game 3 on Tuesday night. Between Casey's hitting Sunday and his 6-for-14 record off Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter, manager Jim Leyland said he's debating hitting Casey third in the lineup instead of Placido Polanco.
"I've been throwing that around between Polanco and Casey," he said. "I'm not exactly sure which way I'm going to go just yet."
As a team, though, the Tigers still aren't exactly pounding the ball. Their list of slumping hitters includes catcher Ivan Rodriguez, now mired in an 0-for-20 slump since his two-hit game to open the American League Championship Series against the A's.
"I think this offense can do a little more," said Rodriguez, who is 9-for-26 with four doubles and seven RBIs lifetime off Carpenter, but 0-for-2 with a strikeout against him this year. "Right now, myself and Polanco, we're a little cold right now, but tomorrow's another game."
Asked about Rodriguez's slump, Leyland had a quick comeback.
"We released him earlier today," Leyland joked.
National League style: The Tigers aren't making a big to-do about having to play in a National League ballpark, based in no small part on their success at Wrigley Field and Miller Park during Interleague Play back in June.
Slaught planned to talk to Brandon Inge about the differences between batting eighth in a lineup without the designated hitter and batting ninth in an AL batting order.
As for pitchers batting, more than one Tigers player remarked that Game 3 starter Nate Robertson has looked respectable hitting in the cage.
"That's about as far as it goes," Robertson said.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.