How quickly time passes. We have moved from the excitement of bullpen sessions and batting practice to extolling the virtues of hitters who are playing a handful of innings against pitchers who are largely working out kinks. I’ll allow catcher James McCann’s 2015 spring slash line of .348/.388/.435 to serve as a quick reminder that while these games aren’t completely useless, they don’t matter all that much.
The Detroit Tigers have officially played three spring training games, two relatively quiet outings sandwiched around a game full of offense. They are now sitting at 1-2 for the spring training run if you’re counting (which you shouldn’t be).
Game one saw a short 15-pitch appearance by starter Michael Fulmer, and the Tigers managed just four singles in a 2-0 loss. Pitcher Mike Pelfrey, a guy who is fighting for a spot this year, got some work. Stop me if you’ve heard this before: he walked his first batter in the second inning. Pelfrey gave up one run over the remainder of that inning, which took 20 pitches to get through.
In the second game, starting pitcher Justin Verlander impressed manager Brad Ausmus by throwing two scoreless innings, and the Tigers offense put up some numbers with back-to-back-to-back home runs. Ausmus had this to say after the game:
"I don't want to throw a parade, but it was certainly the best first outing I've seen out of Justin since I've been here."
More on this coming up.
In the third game, a few Tigers tagged along with a squad largely assembled of minor league talent to take on the New York Mets. Matt Boyd had a solid start. Dixon Machado made some flashy defensive plays covering the hot corner, but the offense was once again mostly silent.
Other Tigers related stuff
After hearing how impressed the coaching staff was with Verlander’s first outing it’s not surprising to hear that his big change in the offseason was adjusting his preparation to be better earlier in the season. This seems like common sense, but Verlander made the observation that in his previous seasons it generally took until June for him to get things going. If the Verlander we’ve been seeing all this time is someone who hasn’t been tuned up until June, and he’s fixing that this year, saying I’m interested to see what kind of damage he does over the course of a full season in 2017 is an understatement.
It looks like right fielder J.D. Martinez’s pec strain wasn’t that big of a deal, and we should soon be seeing him back in the lineup doing the clutch J.D. things he does. Although, if you ask him about it, he doesn’t think it’s that big of a deal. A little warning on that last link there: if the talk of “clutch” makes you want to smash random objects in a fit of rage, you might not want to read it.
In a weirdly titled article that makes me wonder if shortstop Jose Iglesias is keeping some other random shortstop locked in his basement, Chris McCosky of The Detroit News shares Iglesias’ steps toward being a more mature player and keeping himself in shape for the upcoming season. The following quote is one that I can only read with the voice of Rod Allen in my head:
His body has grown, too, and this is something clubs tend to worry about with shortstops. Iglesias is in superb shape — this isn’t a question of fitness. He is still playing at roughly 185 pounds. But there is more thickness to him now; his is more of a man’s body. His legs are a little bigger, more mass in his arms and torso.
For your spare time
The Tim Tebow circus descends on Mets training camp. Apparently Oakland Athletics reliever John Axford is really good at making Oscar’s picks. Number one draft prospect Hunter Greene is pretty good. Jay Bruce is getting some work at first base. An interesting article on hefty leadoff hitters if only for some of the names that come up.
Baseball is awesome
Los Angeles Dodgers prospect Cody Bellinger runs into one, and the sound is something I would bottle and sell if I could.