The calendar has finally flipped over to February, which means that baseball season can be seen just over the horizon. For the Detroit Tigers, spring training camp officially begins on February 12 when pitchers and catchers are required to report to Lakeland. However, some players are already working to get ahead, and for one particular pitcher, that effort never stops.
Scientific edge or a load of snake oil?
The Tigers player best-known for his consistently diligent preparation is its current ace Matthew Boyd. Blessed with a talent for throwing a baseball and a work ethic that would make Thomas Edison jealous, Boyd puts to use any and every aspect of modern technology in his workout regimen, ranging from Driveline’s labs to radical approaches to nutrition. But how many of these techniques are legitimate?
This is the question asked by Eno Saris in his piece for The Athletic in which Boyd features quite prominently. From ultraviolet saunas to DNA testing, many players are exploring the bleeding edge of technology in search of an edge of their own, but far too often these approaches are unproven and unapproved by the FDA. The Tigers hurler employs all of these, and more, including a hypobaric chamber and pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF) therapy devices.
Many of these new trends harken back to practices like cupping and Phiten necklaces, which provide no objective improvement in a person’s athletic performance. With DNA testing in particular, the procedure is done to maximize dietary efficiency, though there is no body of evidence to support the results — especially considering that genetic technology has not yet reached the fine granularity necessary for the ambitious outcomes being sought.
While Boyd should continue to be commended for his commitment to a perpetual training regimen, it is not unreasonable to question some of his approaches. At the end of the day, as long as they do not cause any damage, they really cannot hurt much. Afterall, baseball has always been a superstitious game and the placebo effect is a very real phenomenon that works even when the subject knows it is one.
Jake Rogers works on offense
Jake Rogers had a disappointing debut in the major leagues last year, in large part to a massive hole in his swing that rendered him offensively ineffective against big league pitching. Rogers, however, is putting in the work and making improvements with the bat according to Jason Beck.
Joe Vavra, who was promoted to hitting coach last fall, has been tasked with helping Rogers make the necessary improvements to his bat game. With a heavy load of catching duties imminent in spring training, the two got to work early getting some reps in the batting cage before he has to heed to his calling behind the plate.
When Rogers is able to make contact, he has become well-known for his majestic, towering home runs, but unfortunately those occasions have been few and far between with Detroit. Hopefully, he can get his bat and glove on track and provide the value the franchise sorely needs from the Justin Verlander trade.
Joe Jimenez gets a head start
Pitchers and catchers are not required to report to Lakeland for another two weeks, but reliever Joe Jimenez is already out on the backfields and preparing for the coming season.
‘Best shape of his life’ alert
Daniel Norris was also spotted at Tiger Town on Friday, looking more like a UFC fighter than a baseball player. It is yet to be seen if he can muscle his way to the top of the rotation this season, but it should be a lot of fun to watch him try.
Tarik Skubal on recovery
Top pitching prospect Tarik Skubal is no stranger to putting in the extra effort after recovering from after a long-term injury, the results of which have earned him top marks in the the Tigers’ development system. In this video, he talks about pitching and playing in a positive environment.
Isaac Paredes ‘just missed’ top-100
MLB Pipeline has released its list of prospects for each team that just missed out on its top 100 rankings. For the Tigers, that person was Isaac Paredes, who represents the best bat in the system currently and was probably not far from the actual No. 101 spot on the original list. The following assessment was offered on the young infielder.
After reaching Double-A Erie as a 19-year-old in 2018, Paredes returned to the Eastern League last season and produced a .282/.368/.416 line with 13 homers and nearly as many walks (57) as strikeouts (61). A pest at the plate who consistently works deep counts and endlessly fouls off pitches, Paredes makes a ton of contact to all fields and shows power to his pull-side, though some evaluators would like to see him adopt a more selective approach.
Curtis Granderson gave his best
This article from The Athletic does a fine job encapsulating Granderson’s career, from his exemplary play on to his role model-worthy efforts off the field. However, nothing captures the spirit of one of the most beloved players of the current generation than this clip of him robbing Wily Mo Pena of a home run.
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