With a week until Opening Day, competition for available spots on the roster is heating up. Team White and Team Orange faced off Friday night with the Orangemen, a.k.a. Team Maybin, featuring both Riley Greene and Spencer Torkelson in their starting lineups, with Torkelson playing third base C.J. Cron was the standout, continuing to flex his power stroke while Franklin Perez and Tyler Alexander got the starts for their respective squads.
It was a turbulent first inning for Alexander, giving up a double to leadoff hitter Willi Castro to open the game. He was promptly pushed over to third by a Victor Reyes on a single shot between first and second base. Alexander looked more comfortable facing Cameron Maybin, drawing two swings and misses en route to a strikeout, but Christin Stewart roped a single down the right field line for a single to drive in the first run of the game.
Team Orange didn’t let up on the pressure for a moment. Reyes broke to steal third during Spencer Torkelson’s first at-bat and an errant pickoff throw from catcher Eric Haase allowed him to score. The hit parade continued with singles off the bats of Torkelson and Dawel Lugo. Alexander’s inning was mercifully cut short, but not before walking Frank Schwindel as well.
Franklin Perez had a much easier time working through his first inning of work than Alexander. He seemed to have a little trouble spotting his pitches down, but it didn’t matter. Hitters weren’t squaring him up and he only suffered one hit - a bloop Jonathan Schoop single - and his entrance was punctuated by the swinging strikeout of CJ Cron.
Harold Castro hit a bouncing ground ball into the shift and Torkelson was unable to handle it. The ball took an awkward bounce right in front of him and Castro beat the throw to second by a hair’s breadth.
“We’ve talked for about two weeks now, and [Torkelson] is really a good kid. He’s certainly going to be a major leaguer at some point, but not yet,” said Alan Trammell in an in-game interview. “He’s not ready. The only way we can figure this out - we can talk ‘til the cows come home, but you have to see those plays in-game. I’d like to see him get some ground balls today at third and make the plays. That’s it, just make the plays.”
Perez wrapped up his outing without allowing any runs in two innings, replaced by John Schreiber in the third. Perez’ offspeed stuff looked sharp - in particular, the changeup kept hitters off balance and drew a few bad swings.
CJ Cron has been a force to be reckoned with during Spring Training and continued that streak with an absolute tank he hit onto the concourse behind left field. Cron was far from the only batter to square up on Schrieber. Team Orange was seeing his pitches well when he wasn’t able to keep them low, but he got a few silly swings and misses on well-spotted changeups.
Alexander sidestepped what could have been a brutal outing, quieting down his atrocious first inning performance and retiring nine of the last ten batters he faced. Schrieber did the same, getting three straight outs, but all three batters worked long at-bats.
Buck Farmer entered in relief of Alexander, creating a boldly bearded battery with his backstop, Haase. In all seriousness, he looked quite a bit better than the preceding pitchers and his changeup was dialed in. He gave up yet another line drive single to Christin Stewart, who has been red-hot of late.
Veteran Nick Ramirez, of the crafty lefty guild, came on to pitch in relief of Schreiber. He was the Tigers bullpen innings leader last season, but he may be on the outside looking in right now. If his fastball velocity reached 90 miles per hour, it was the exception rather than the rule, and he leaned heavily on his changeup. (Are you sensing a pattern yet?) He looked good in his previous summer outings with that pitch mix, but today, he was off his game. He struggled to hit his spots and got knocked around somewhat as a result.
Jose Cisnero came to the mound to replace Farmer and got out of the inning unscathed. His fastball hasn’t climbed back up to upper-90s velocity yet, but he was able to send all three batters back to the dugout with relative ease. He’s not known for his command, and that hasn’t changed, but results would make it seem he’s doing everything in his power to make it onto the Opening Day roster.
The game was capped after only six innings. Intrasquad matches are not governed by the same rules as regulation games, and the team decided only to work out enough pitchers to play six frames before hitting the showers.
Tweet of the Game
Alexander struck out Riley Greene twice, but Greene didn't go easily. Lefty on lefty, a six-pitch battle and a seven-pitch battle.— Chris McCosky (@cmccosky) July 17, 2020
Notes from the injured list
Isaac Paredes arrived in Summer Camp today and took BP before the intrasquad game. Daniel Norris is reportedly close to re-joining the team, and pitching prospect Tarik Skubal posted an Instagram clip Friday afternoon showing him at Detroit Metropolitan airport. The club looks to be getting healthy with the complete 60-man roster coming together.
There was one unfortunate, but unsurprising exception. A recurrence of forearm tightness for Jordan Zimmermann’s career may mark the end of his career as a starter for the Tigers. His spot in the rotation is wide open.
Zimmermann has tightness in his forearm. Same injury shut him down for a while last year.— Chris McCosky (@cmccosky) July 18, 2020