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Monday Tigers News: The Grapefruit League kicks it into high gear this week

We look at booziest fanbases, pitching battles, and players rounding into form

MLB: Detroit Tigers at Kansas City Royals Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Following a fun Saturday win over the Orioles and a Sunday walk fest against Toronto that abruptly ended after eight innings because both sides apparently decided they just didn’t want to play anymore — and that kind of thing is allowed now — the Tigers are now 5-2 on the spring with the most wins in the Grapefruit league. If only that mattered one little bit. Monday is an off day. Let’s get to some reading to pass the time.

Paredes at second

One thing of note from Saturday’s game was Isaac Paredes playing second base. He saw no small amount of action come his way and handled it quite well. It’s not a completely strange spot for Paredes, who has seen some time there in various leagues over the last few years. The Tigers have Jonathan Schoop lined up to start at second this year, but if there’s one thing we are learning about A.J. Hinch, it’s that he likes himself some versatility. It looks like Paredes being able to play the keystone is part of the plan.

Clemens impressing early

Last year, the Tigers spent a good chunk of spring training shuttling Kody Clemens over to take part in major league camp in preparation for a double-A season that never happened. He spent the summer playing in an independent league in Texas and enters this year looking like it helped him quite a bit. So far in spring he’s showing patience and a little bit of pop in the bat. Going forward, the team has to figure out where they’re going to put him to start the season. There was good money on Toledo, but with the start to their season being delayed things are back up in the air a bit. Wherever he ends up, Clemens has shown A.J. Hinch enough that he’s likely in the conversation for an in-season call up this year.

Mazara focused on future

The Nomar Mazara of 2020 wasn’t the same Mazara as the league had seen in the previous four seasons. That performance — or lack thereof — is what lead to his free agency this past off season. The difference was not lost on Mazara:

“It was probably the first year I felt nothing was working for me,” Mazara said Friday. “I was just trying to get going. Baseball is crazy. If it would have been a long season, I would have been like, ‘OK, let me work on this. I’ve got time.’

Unfortunately, time was not a luxury Mazara had the privilege of experiencing last season. He missed time early in the year with strep throat, and that time combined with the COVID-19 protocols he had to follow to return sort of screwed things up for him. He didn’t start feeling good about his swing until the 2020 season was starting to wind down. Coming into this year, he may be a in a better position to regain that old form. He’s just now starting to see action in spring training. Hopefully we’ll see that confidence translate to some solid spring numbers he can carry into the season.

Fulmer looking sharp

It’s already been a big spring for Michael Fulmer. He left camp to be with his wife for the birth of their second child and returned in time to make his spring debut against the Orioles on Saturday. All accounts of that outing are good. His velocity wasn’t improved over the 2020 model, but it’s early and his solid two innings of work give the organization some hope. Tarik Skubal followed with an electric two innings of his own, and now we’re in a position where we are discussing seven viable options for the rotation at this point in the season. Fulmer is going to have every opportunity to show he should stay in that conversation.

As for Julio Teheran and Jose Ureña, they finally got into action on Sunday after a lengthy wait to clear COVID protocols. Ureña looked like himself, pounding ferocious sinkers in on right-handers, and hitting two batters. Teheran was sharp and showing more velocity than we’ve been accustomed to seeing from him the past few seasons. Don’t make too much of one outing, but it was fairly impressive considering the lack of time in camp so far.

Reyes ready, two more to go

Victor Reyes was cleared to take part in spring training starting on Sunday. That clears one more off the board leaving only Renato Nunez and Jonathan Schoop — both of whom are in Lakeland and waiting to be cleared — as players who are waiting for the greenlight to participate.

Booziest fanbase

In the latest research from the venerable institution known as NJ Gambling, the heaviest drinking fanbases during games was tabulated. The Tigers finished respectably in the top ten, so at least we can say our team is top ten in something this season. I must say though, I doubt the veracity of any study measuring the drinking rate of a fanbase when the team from Philadelphia finishes in dead last.

Around the horn

Indians’ Franmil Reyes and Jose Ramirez sent home after violating COVID-19 protocols. Astros prospect Forrest Whitley likely to get Tommy John surgery. Major League Baseball suspends Sam Dyson for the entire 2021 season. Major League Baseball to have annual Lou Gehrig day on June 2.

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