Good Monday morning, and welcome to March. This was an eventful weekend, so I understand if you need to catch up. Whether you were watching whatever mid-major conference basketball tournament that happened to be on the tube or hitting the theaters for the latest film about a man with knives in his hands, fear not. Tigers Links is here to fill you in on what you may have missed.
There’s so much drama in the WBC
The World Baseball classic is underway, having started at the totally-not-too-early time of 5:00 a.m. It’s not exactly the MLB regular season, but it beats spring training games because it is (technically) baseball that matters. You’ll find no fewer than 15 Detroit Tigers scattered across various rosters with a heavy dose in the Venezuelan contingent. If you want more details, Rob provided some Tigers-focused information and the schedule. Here’s a more detailed examination of the entire field if you have a half hour you don’t know what to do with. My money is on the United States team. We’re due, just ask John Smoltz. Besides, winning the WBC will give us all more chances to indiscriminately chant “USA! USA!,” which is something we, as Americans, love to do.
The word of the weekend, as far as the few Tigers battling for a starting pitching spot were concerned, was struggle. Matt Boyd followed up his promising first outing by getting hit around in his second. After a clean first inning, Boyd ran into trouble in the second. He left the game after 1 2⁄3 innings and was tagged for four runs. Something possibly lost in that game was Buck Farmer striking out four in just over two innings of work.
Jordan Zimmermann was one bright spot for the starting rotation, putting in his second solid outing in as many tries. He didn’t strike anyone out, but he didn’t give up any runs either. After that, things got pretty lackluster. Anibal Sanchez continued to make a strong case for not being allowed anywhere near the mound once the season starts. He gave up two long balls en route to four earned runs over 1 2⁄3 innings. Closer Francisco Rodriquez saw his first action of the spring and it was a mixed bag. He struck out two, and then gave up a single and two walks before he got the hook.
Not one to harsh your mellow, pitcher Daniel Norris came out on Sunday and worked three good-looking innings. Mark Lowe, on the other hand, did not. After what many considered a pretty solid start, Lowe did not get going on Sunday. After two-thirds of an inning that saw him walk one batter and give up two home runs, his day was done. Shane Greene didn’t look so hot either. He gave up three hits on two earned runs in one inning of work. Ruben Alaniz brought his spring total to four innings pitched with five punch outs. That’s kind of intriguing.
The injury bug found its way to the Tigers on Saturday when pitching prospect Adam Ravanelle experienced numbness in his fingers. An MRI didn’t show anything of note, thankfully. In other injury news, starting pitcher Michael Fulmer rolled his ankle in agility drills and will miss his next start against the Baltimore Orioles on Monday. Manager Brad Ausmus said it was a Grade 1 sprain. While it won’t affect his situation with the Tigers, it could keep him out of the World Baseball Classic.
Around the AL Central
In a strange move, the Chicago White Sox decided to part ways with infielder Brett Lawrie. A once-heralded prospect, it has been a weird ride for Lawrie. With his potential and the low price tag, I don’t expect it to take long for him to land somewhere.
Today in baseball history
In 1971, trailblazing Oakland Athletics owner Charlie Finely convinced American League president Joe Cronin to allow a game played with three-ball walks instead of four, in the interest of speeding up the game (sound familiar?). It turned out to be not such a great idea after 19 walks were issued between the two teams.
Baseball is awesome
For your free time
For some reason, people keep asking Bud Selig what he thinks about things. St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright seems like a solid dude. Statcast is going to change how you look at the game of baseball. The introduction of things like catch probability and hit probability are reminders that the future keeps coming. Commissioner Rob Manfred says he’s willing to consider shorter commercial breaks to improve pace of play. On a related note, I sometimes consider the salad bar at an all-you-can-eat Brazilian steakhouse.