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Detroit Tigers News: Spring training is in full swing

Now that the entire team has reported to Lakeland things are fully underway for the 2020 season.

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Detroit Tigers Spring Workout Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images

The opening of the spring training season has brought on an avalanche of reports out of Lakeland, from an injured Hall of Famer to pitching prospect updates. Baseball is officially back, and manager Ron Gardenhire is already in mid-season form.

Gardy, as he is affectionately known, has a penchant for giving the media tasty sound bites, as well as cliché, aw-shucks responses to questions about his team. When asked about the low expectations given to the Tigers for the upcoming season, he responded, “I get irritated when I hear them say we’ll be ‘a little bit’ better... That bothers me.” While PECOTA predicts a 21-game improvement for the team, most of the other prognostications are not nearly as bullish, and the manager wants to be sure his team is in the correct mindset.

“I was on a team that went from last place to first place. Anything can happen in this game. If you start out with your expectations low, that’s not good. Set them through the roof and we’ll see where we go.

”When a snowball starts rolling down a hill, you never know what it can grow and turn into. That’s the attitude I want these guys to have and that was my message today in the clubhouse. We never know what’s going to happen. All we have to do is go out and bust our (butt). If we start making plays and do the right things, we can win.”

Fans can always count on Gardenhire to talk the talk, but can his team walk the walk?

Speaking of walking... or not quite walking, Hall of Famer Alan Trammell arrived in camp with a protective boot on his broken left leg after injuring himself recently in a snowmobile accident on a trip with former teammate Kirk Gibson. Never one to miss a chance for a good guffaw, Gardy placed the blame on Gibson — a snowbird by birth — allowing a Southern California guy to lead the pack. Gardenhire was quoted in saying the following.

“Honestly, it’s Gibby’s fault. You are riding in your country — Gibby’s country, right? And you tell Trammell to lead the snowmobile crew. He doesn’t really know where he’s going. He went straight at a stop sign, and it was a left turn. And he went straight.”

Many members of the team are still shaking off the rust from the offseason, but Ron Gardenhire is has already hit his mid-season stride.

Prospect power!

While Gardenhire is in the best managerial shape of his life coming into camp, many of the Tigers’ prospect pitchers are also getting a good start to the season. The crop of pitching prospects has been hard to ignore so far this spring, and all eyes have been on Casey Mize, the Tigers’ top prospect and former No. 1 pick.

Mize came into his spring training debut last year impressing many with his cerebral approach to the game along with his devastating split-finger pitch. Now, after a year of seasoning in the minors, the narrative has shifted towards his health and development. So far, Mize has pitched in live batting practice as well as well as bullpen sessions with his updated catching corps, including newcomer Austin Romine.

Romine has had a chance to catch a whole slew of Tigers pitchers, from Matthew Boyd to Alex Wilson, giving his opinion of various pitchers in this article from the Detroit Free Press, including this assessment of Mize.

“He had good fastball command. He was working on his splitter a little bit. Overall, for a guy coming in — I’m not quite sure how old he is (he’s 22) — for a guy coming in, with a lot of eyes on him, where he’s at with his fastball command is above and beyond.

”You can tell he knows how to pitch, he knows how to work. Again, it was a short bullpen of 20 or 30 pitches, but you can get a little feel for what he’s got. I’d have to catch him more to get more in-depth. But good stuff.”

Among the other pitchers turning heads this spring are Gregory Soto and his blazing fast ball, which already sits in the upper-90s, and fellow Dominican Jose Cisnero who has returned from baseball purgatory to carve out a bullpen role for himself last season. The two are coming off of dominating stints in the winter league and arrived at camp already tuned in.

Then there is Alex Faedo who has slimmed down and has a newfound focus on his pitching development. The former Florida Gator had the following to say about his setback in 2018 and his mindset moving forward.

“It was more about working on things (in 2018). I think we were trying to get on top of some things that ended up helping me a lot last year. You want to pitch well and win as many games as you can, but it’s about development, too, so that when they do call your name, you’re ready.”

If Faedo, Soto and Cisnero can continue to progress and contribute to the Tigers franchise, it will be a major boon to the rebuilding efforts.

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