A thought, rather dizzying, struck Tuesday as the Tigers played the Pirates at Joker Marchant Stadium. Spring training is nearly half-finished.
Study the Tigers' probable Opening Day hitters and their spring camp at-bats and you get a sense, even in these ridiculously early hours of March, for where minds and bodies are a month before serious games begin.
Detroit will need back-up muscle from Toledo to help the Tigers' five-man corps withstand inevitable aches and pains that, almost freakishly, rarely showed up in 2013.
Just as the Tigers and Jose Iglesias were cheering his chances to turn shortstop into a showplace, the Tigers have lost Iglesias to an old ailment – shin splints. Iglesias will be replaced by Hernan Perez, who primarily plays second base, but whose versatility makes him the Tigers’ most big-league-ready answer at short.
Dave Dombrowski was striding toward his office, in that glass-enclosed, second-floor loft above the Tigers clubhouse at Marchant Stadium, when he was asked Thursday about the team he had retooled for 2014.
Another factor should be bounce-back seasons for some players who stand to better their 2013 report cards. The comeback crew would include (batting average and on-base plus slugging percentages included in parentheses):
It was mentioned Wednesday to Brad Ausmus that he inherited a turnkey Tigers team. His roster is all but set. His job as a rookie manager seemingly got easier when there were as few personnel decisions in flux as the 2014 Tigers present.
Monday, on a bright, 75-degree day in Lakeland, the new-model Rondon fired fastballs and sliders and a change-up or two at his catching partner, Bryan Holaday.
The low grade makes more sense when Washington was picked as having struck the offseason's best trade in grabbing Doug Fister from the Tigers for Robbie Ray, Ian Krol, and Steve Lombardozzi.
You can appreciate those who harbor doubts about the Tigers and their bullpen. Their fans all but needed group therapy to recover from past trauma, some of it induced by Jose Valverde, some brought on by Joaquin Benoit and the October change-up he was sure would fool David Ortiz.
Lynn Henning joined The Detroit News sports staff in 1979 after 3½ years as a sports writer and columnist for the Lansing State Journal. A lifelong Michigan native (St. Johns) and a 1974 journalism graduate from Michigan State, Henning has specialized through the years in covering baseball, as well as Michigan and Michigan State, Lions and Red Wings, and in writing about the outdoors. Henning spent seven years during the 1990s as editor of PGA Magazine and as a writer for the national weekly, Golfweek.
- Lynn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lynn Henning's favorites:Favorite movie: Fargo
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