Detroit — Max Scherzer has peered into his own crystal ball and sees himself re-signing with the Tigers.
Before the 2014 season would be fine.
After would also work.
But once the first pitch is thrown, forget about it during the season.
“It would be too big a distraction,” Scherzer said Thursday on the first stop of the Tigers Winter Caravan — one they didn’t have to bus to because it took place at Comerica Park.
So there you have it: Now that an arbitration-avoiding agreement with Scherzer for $15.525 million is in place for 2014, he’s open to listening to long-term offers from the Tigers.
And foresees an eventual agreement.
Saying all the right things, the American League Cy Young Award winner repeated his preference is to sign with Detroit.
What he ruled out is for all the questions that he’ll be asked in the days ahead about the contract’s progress to carry over into April.
“I won’t be talking about it,” he said.
That’s because he wants his mindset to be the same as it has always been.
“It’s not going to be different for me,” Scherzer said. “I have to go out there and pitch well.”
It has been an eventful winter for Scherzer. He won the Cy Young in November, also got married in November and later took a wedding trip to New Zealand.
And he’s not ruling out the possibility of signing a long-term contract — which, of course, would add to the events of the off-season.
But he refuses to let business affect his focus — even in January.
“Honestly, this is the place I want to be,” Scherzer said. “I love it here, I’m comfortable here and I love being part of the Tigers.
“Hopefully we can get something done before spring training. If not, I’m confident that after the season, we can completely resolve this.”
That’s worth repeating: “I’m confident that after the season, we can completely resolve this, finish it...
“And never talk about it again,” Scherzer said.
There’s no indication it’s on the brink of happening, but as Scherzer also said, “I’m sure that conversations are going to pick up.”
From Leyland to Ausmus
Scherzer said he’ll miss Jim Leyland as manager of the Tigers — “even all the old man jokes he used to tell me in the outfield during batting practice, but I think it’s going to be great.
“No matter what he said, you always laughed.”
Have the Tigers improved?
Torii Hunter thinks so.
“I just don’t think so; I’m sure of it,” Hunter said. “Look what we’ve added.
“We have speed on the ball club now (with the addition of Ian Kinsler and Rajai Davis).
“Plus having Joe Nathan on the back end as the closer means we have consistency there. Nobody knew how much I was texting him, but I was on him signing with us from Day One.”
As for how many it takes it took for Hunter to tape Austin Jackson dunking the ball recently, Hunter said “that was take one.
“Austin said, ‘I’m going to see if I still got it,’ and boom, he’s still got it.”
Did Hunter also try to dunk?
“I did a layup,” said Hunter, “But what Austin did, that was me when I was younger. Thing is, there was no video then.”
Alex Avila remains the only unsigned arbitration-eligible Tiger but doesn’t want to go to a hearing, and he doesn’t expect he will have to.
“I don’t think it will take too much longer,” the Tigers’ catcher said.
Avila filed for a salary of $5.35 million. The Tigers countered with $3.75 million.
That would put the midpoint at $4.55 million. It’s expected Avila will sign for close to the midpoint.
Avila, by the way, is enthused Bryan Holaday apparently will be the Tigers’ second catcher this season.
“He’s just a good all-around catcher,” said Avila. “He blocks the ball well, has good hands, throws well, and learned really quickly as far as calling a game.
“Plus he’s come on, too, with his hitting. He’s made some big strides with his game.”
Around the horn
Four Tigers will be missing from the caravan and Saturday’s TigerFest: Phil Coke’s wife is expecting the couple’s second child; Ian Kinsler and Victor Martinez had other commitments and Justin Verlander is rehabbing from his core surgery.