Lakeland, Fla. — The Tigers won’t have him for long — and they probably know it.
Omar Vizquel will be the Tigers’ first-base coach this season —and also their infield coach.
But the 11-time Gold Glove winning shortstop is on his way toward becoming a manager. It might happen in a year; it might happen in two.
It will happen, though.
Vizquel, who retired following the 2012 season (and after 24 years in the majors), is too astute a student of the game for it not to happen. His knowledge of the game is too deep for it not to happen.
And his desire for it to occur also makes it probable.
“That’s the goal,” he said. “When I retired, I said I wanted to manage some day in the big leagues. Last year, I did a little bit of coaching with the Angels, and this year I will be with the Tigers.
“I’m excited about the opportunity. To coach first base is something I haven’t done before.
“Obviously, these are my baby steps to reach the final goal. To be around everyone here will be a great experience for me as a coach, but also to keep working in the direction (of becoming a manager).”
A year ago, left-handed reliever Ian Krol was in Oakland’s organization, but was traded to the Nationals on March 20 to complete an earlier deal.
In 32 games, he pitched well for the Nationals — going 2-1 with a 3.95 ERA in 32 appearances — only to find himself dealt again over the winter, this time to the Tigers in the trade that sent Doug Fister to Washington.
Krol hopes he’s found a home with the Tigers, though. In fact, with the way he already likes what he sees of the team, he’d be disappointed if he hasn’t.
“Right when I walked into the clubhouse during the caravan,” he said, “I noticed (the chemistry) on this team.
“It was a shock to me to get traded. Being traded twice in one year is a roller coaster, but the transition has been easy.
“Everyone here has been very helpful. Everybody here has been very welcoming. And let’s be honest, everybody has high expectations,” Krol said.
“We have unbelievable talent in that clubhouse.”
Miguel Cabrera was never one to call Jim Leyland “Skip”, so unlike what Justin Verlander said he’s experienced, there’s no image of Leyland that comes to mind for Cabrera when he addresses the new manager, Brad Ausmus.
“I’ll call him Brad,” Cabrera said.
“I had nicknames for Jim. I never called Skip ‘Skip.’ I never used that word.”
Nicknames he’ll also call Ausmus?
Around the horn
As for how he’s feeling about returning to first base, Cabrera said “it’s nice. I feel relaxed over there.”
... Justin Verlander threw 54 pitches, “and everything felt good,” Ausmus said.
... Ausmus, and all the other Tigers for that matter, could breathe easier at the end of Tuesday’s workout because there were no mishaps in live batting practice.
No inside pitches?
“I didn’t see any,” said Ausmus, who added his first address in front of the entire team “wasn’t daunting at all.
“I’ve been around collections of talented baseball players before.”
“It didn’t seem that different. I’m still the same height, the same weight, and the sun still gets hot around lunch time.
“It just feels like spring training.”