Detroit — The shock and awe of Thursday’s 11th-hour blockbuster trade had mostly worn off by the time the Tigers reassembled Friday to begin a three-game series against the Rockies.
David Price was still in Florida tying up loose ends — he would arrive Saturday. Austin Jackson and Drew Smyly had said their goodbyes and were off to join their new teams.
And, as manager Brad Ausmus clearly emphasized to his players and the media, it was time to get back to business.
“Getting a guy like David Price, the biggest name on the market this free-agent season, you hope he injects some energy. He certainly makes our rotation better,” Ausmus said. “But we still have to go out and score runs and we’ve got to hold leads.
“Nothing is being handed to us. This is a great addition but we have to go out and win.”
The Tigers had lost five of six and nine of 14 since the All Star break. Their lead in the AL Central had shrunk to four entering play Friday. So, the point is well-taken, but the hope is the addition of Price will provide a spark.
“We’re thrilled to be able to get (Price), obviously,” said pitching coach Jeff Jones, who had a hard time containing his smile about the prospect of having three Cy Young Award winners in his rotation. “He’s one of the best pitchers in the game, left-handed, everything you’ve heard about him — he’s a great competitor, great guy. I think he’ll fit in perfectly.”
Jones said Price is expected to make his Tigers debut Tuesday in New York, which would have been Smyly’s normal turn.
“He’ll get an extra day this time but we don’t have another off day for a while, so he will be on five days rest,” Jones said. “Then once we get to the off-days, maybe we’ll make adjustments (to the rotation) or keep it the way it is.”
In the meantime, Jones is eager to get with his new left-hander and find out how he likes to work and be coached.
“I looked at some video and I’ll look at some more today,” Jones said. “I looked at some video when he threw against us last time actually because he was throwing more change-ups than I remember and throwing some back-door breaking balls, So I took a little time the next day to see.
“I need to talk to him when he gets here. Everybody likes different types of information. I will find out what he likes and what he likes to do.”
Ausmus said he spoke to Price for about five minutes on the phone.
“He seemed excited,” Ausmus said. “I know Dave (Dombrowski, president and general manager) talked to him and felt the same way. He’s excited to come here and be part of the Tigers. He knows about the fans and how they show up en masse for the games.”
The players still were trying to come to grips with the sudden absence of Jackson and Smyly. Don Kelly has been Jackson’s clubhouse locker neighbor for four years. He often joked Jackson’s clothes and shoes spilled over into his space.
He had plenty of room Friday — too much room, in fact.
“Yeah, I have plenty of space but I miss him,” Kelly said. “Four years you are next to a guy and then, boom, he’s gone. But you understand the business of the game.”
Kelly had a different take on Jackson getting pulled in the middle of the inning Thursday.
“I’ll tell you what, it was really cool the way the fans reacted,” he said. “Ideally you don’t want it to happen like that. But the way it happened, it was really climactic. (Rajai) Davis goes out and there’s Austin not really knowing what was going on and he runs off getting a final cheer from the home fans.
“It was kind of cool.”
Because of Jackson’s popularity in the clubhouse and the vital role he played in center field and at the top the batting order, there was some concern the trade might upset chemistry, at least initially.
Ausmus dismissed those concerns.
“In baseball, the business aspect of it, people come and go all the time and I think as a player you become almost hardened to it,” he said.
“It’s sad to see friends go but you understand the fact that this is a business. If there is a friendship you can certainly stay in touch very easily. There isn’t much upheaval.”
Ausmus did say, though, the outfield might not be as sound defensively with Jackson gone.
“Jackson is a very good outfielder, but you will be surprised at how good (Ezequiel) Carrera is in center field,” Ausmus said. “But we lost a little bit defensively probably, overall, and a little bit of offense, especially the way Austin was swinging the bat.
“But you don’t get something for nothing and you certainly don’t get a David Price for nothing.”