Baseball is back.
In front of an announced 4,995 fans, the Detroit Tigers opened their spring training schedule with their annual college exhibition game. But rather than their traditional tangle with the Water Moccasins of Florida Southern College, the Tigers opted to play with Fire. The baseball team of Lakeland’s Southeastern University Fire, that is.
At the plate
The Tigers saw some power swings from Brandon Dixon, an offseason waiver pickup, and top catcher prospect Jake Rogers, each of whom launched solo home runs.
A two-out RBI double for Kade Scivicque gave the Tigers the lead in the bottom of the seventh inning, scoring Cody Eaves. They would then break it open in the eighth inning which included, among other things, a solo home run from Daniel Pinero, a two-run triple for Brady Policelli, and an RBI double by Cam Gibson.
Other notable batters making appearances today included Daz Cameron (0-3), Victor Reyes (0-3), Dawel Lugo (1-2), Ronny Rodriguez (2-3, 2B, RBI), Willi Castro (1-2), and Sergio Alcantara (1-2, 2B).
On the mound
The Tigers got a look at a few up-and-coming pieces. Spencer Turnbull, after a few appearances down the stretch in 2018, got the nod as the day’s starter, throwing two scoreless innings. He was followed by 2018 first overall pick Casey Mize, who saw two innings of work. While he looked a touch rusty in his first inning of work, he was effective as he sent down the side in order. His second inning was a bit more shaky, as he missed the strike zone a bit more frequently.
Mize missed up with the fastball a fair amount in that inning, but the breaking ball looked good.— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) February 22, 2019
After recording two quick outs, he surrendered three consecutive hits and one run. Kyle Funkhouser, who could make his first appearance in Detroit as early as this season, also saw a couple of innings of work in which he would retire all six batters he faced, including striking out the side in the top of the sixth inning with a fastball that topped out around 96 miles per hour.
Other pitchers making appearances were Gregory Soto (IP, H, R, 2 K) Eduardo Jimenez (IP, H, 2 K), and Paul Voelker (IP, 2 H).
Dawel Lugo, looking to return to the major league roster this season, had a rough day with two baserunning gaffes in the early goings of the contest; first, after losing track of outs, he was doubled off on a fly ball to the outfield. Again, in the fourth inning, he was thrown out at first base after taking a wide turn on an overthrow.
The Tigers will open up Grapefruit League play on Saturday as they visit Dunedin to take on the Toronto Blue Jays. First pitch is slated for 1:07 p.m. and Dan Dickerson will be on the call on the Detroit Tigers radio network. You can also follow along on MLB.com Gameday.