Good Monday morning, reader. We are a scant two games into the exhibition season for the Detroit Tigers. The team cruised to an easy opening victory against the Blue Jays on Saturday. Sunday was a bit more difficult, though, as the Tigers took a solid thumping at the hands of the Philadelphia Phillies. Winning isn’t always highly emphasized in spring ball, so let’s see if there are any takeaways from these first couple games, as well as other relevant Tigers news.
In an article that touches on Spencer Turnbull and Gregory Soto, Anthony Fenech of The Detroit Free Press talks a bit about Jordan Zimmermann. It is a new season, and yet another opportunity for Zimmermann to figure out what has gone so wrong for him since his arrival in the Motor City.
This year, Zimmermann came into camp a few pounds lighter and has adjusted his hand positioning during his delivery. According to reports, this has helped with his delivery and direction toward the plate. We will get the opportunity to see how that looks on Monday afternoon, when Zimmermann takes the mound in a split-squad game against the Phillies.
Sunday marked the first time we’ve seen Miguel Cabrera play baseball since June. While his stat line was fairly mundane — one hit and one walk in two plate appearances — it was good to see Cabrera back in action and getting comfortable on the field.
Getting comfortable appears to be something he is going to have to work on this spring, though. Said Cabrera after the game:
“It felt a little weird,” he said. “Like I don’t know what I’m doing in the field. Hitting was good, but on the field, base running and defense, I felt uncomfortable.”
It will take a while to get used to things again, and no one seems worried, but the fact that Cabrera is comfortable at the plate is good enough for me. The rest should get there in time.
While we won’t be seeing the Tigers’ newly acquired second baseman, Josh Harrison, in game action for a few more days, the newly-minted Tiger came in for his first batting practice on Sunday morning. Despite the disturbing fact that he is familiar with Toby Keith and can identify his music (if that’s what you choose to call it), Harrison seemed to jump right into things. The Tigers are happy to have him aboard. Not only does he improve the second base position in the short term, there is also an interest in Harrison’s leadership skills and his ability to guide a young team through the early stages of a rebuild.
Hope for the future
Anthony Fenech of the Free Press took a tour of the back fields at Lakeland last week and came away with a good feeling about the future of the organization. In a story that focuses on names like Matt Manning, Isaac Paredes, and Wenceel Perez, there are also mentions of lesser known guys like Kingston Liniak and Kelvin Smith.
These players weren’t on the back fields a year ago. You see their names scroll through on draft day, see them show up on prospect rankings and hear bits and pieces about their play. But nothing compares to an in-person look at the Tigers’ future, which on this day — with an invitation-only assortment of raw talent — offers the most convincing argument that there is, indeed, progress being made here.
The focused approach that relies more on the use of technology and advanced analytics has many in the Tigers organization excited for what is to come.
Tyson Ross made his spring debut on Sunday. While the start of it looked a little rough — the three run bomb Philadelphia’s Nick Williams launched in the first should be careening off the Mars rover sometime in 2020 — Ross settled in and sat down five of the next six. At this point in the year, he is happy to be getting his work in and finding his sinker, which he was happy with at times throughout Sunday’s outing.
Around the horn
Scott Boras and Bryce Harper on the verge of the least satisfying nine-figure deal ever. Late comic Brody Stevens kept baseball close to heart. J.D. Martinez says free agency has become embarrassing for baseball.