Tigers starting pitcher Max Scherzer says his goal is to win and 'with this clubhouse, we have so much fun together.' (Elizabeth Conley / Detroit News)
Minneapolis — Max Scherzer’s dreams have changed since he was a boy growing up in St. Louis.
“When I was a little kid, it was my dream to play for the Cardinals; I’m not going to lie,” the reigning American League Cy Young winner said Monday. “But as I got to the big leagues and started playing with Detroit and you start with the guys there in the clubhouse … it’s my dream to play in Detroit.”
Scherzer listed the other Tigers All Stars — Miguel Cabrera, Ian Kinsler and Victor Martinez — among the reasons he enjoys being in Detroit. And right now, his team’s 6˝-game lead in the AL Central is the biggest in baseball, and the Tigers are the heavy favorites to win the division a fourth straight year.
“You get to this point and you realize you have different goals,” Scherzer said. “My goal is to win, and with this clubhouse, we have so much fun together. So right now I’m living my dream.”
But will that dream continue for the long haul?
“That remains to be seen,” he said.
Scherzer will represent the Tigers in the All-Star Game tonight for the second consecutive season, but it could be the last. After this season, he’ll be one of the top free agents available and is in line for an exorbitant contract from whichever team signs him.
“Hopefully they can keep him,” Cabrera said. “I think he wants to stay with us. If they’re able to do that, I think we’re going to have a good team for a lot of years. We’ll see what happens.”
Scherzer has done well in the follow-up to his Cy Young season. His 3.35 ERA is up from 2.90 last season, and other statistics aren’t quite as good, but he is striking out batters at a slightly higher rate.
He pitched well enough that it wouldn’t have been a stretch for him to start tonight. But, Mariners ace Felix Hernandez got the nod.
“Give the ball to Felix,” he said. “What he’s doing right now is absolutely unbelievable.”
As long as Scherzer pitches similarly after the All-Star break, he could earn a hefty contract during the offseason. He’s not, however, thinking that far into the future.
“My only train of thought is how we’re going to win this American League Central and find a way to get in the playoffs and get a World Series ring,” he said. “That’s the only thing that matters. That’s the only thing that motivates me.”
First pitch: 8 Tuesday, Target Field, Minneapolis
TV/radio: Fox (7:30 p.m.)/WMGC
Series: National League 43-39-2
Did you know: The longest winning streak in All-Star Game history is 11 by the National League (1972-82)
■CF Andrew McCutchen, Pirates
■RF Yasiel Puig, Dodgers
■SS Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies
■1B Paul Goldschmidt, Diamondbacks
■DH Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins
■3B Aramis Ramirez, Brewers
■2B Chase Utley, Phillies
■C Jonathan Lucroy, Brewers
■LF Carlos Gomez, Brewers
Pitcher: Adam Wainwright, Cardinals
■SS Derek Jeter, Yankees
■LF Mike Trout, Angels
■2B Robinson Cano, Mariners
■1B Miguel Cabrera, Tigers
■RF Jose Bautista, Blue Jays
■DH Nelson Cruz, Orioles
■CF Adam Jones, Orioles
■3B Josh Donaldson, A’s
■C Salvador Perez, Royals
Pitcher: Felix Hernandez, Mariners