Toronto — Music was playing in the Tigers clubhouse late Sunday afternoon, a loud mix of the usual Latin and hip-hop cuts that are theme-tunes on a day when the scoreboard cooperates.
The Tigers hadn't heard clubhouse melodies in two weeks. They instead had listened to other sounds, not always as upbeat, which earlier Sunday included a team conversation as the Tigers tried to settle minds rocked by an 11-game losing streak and by exile from a win-column they hadn't touched since June 17.
"Definitely, we've been through a lot," said Ron Gardenhire, the Tigers manager who had decided Sunday that a pregame team meeting big on therapy and empty of blame would be the best way to attack two weeks of losing.
The chat session might have had no bearing on what happened later Sunday as the Tigers crushed the Toronto Blue Jays, 9-1, at Rogers Centre, with Jordan Zimmermann pitching seven sparkling innings, and with Nick Castellanos blasting a grand-slam homer, then just missing another in the ninth when Kevin Pillar made a catch against the center-field fence you really must see, repeatedly, to fully savor.
Or, the soul-baring could have gone down as one more significant event in a week of incidents and experiences, on and off the field, that were hardly routine for the Tigers, for Gardenhire, or for a team's front office as a club dealing with grinding transition issues collided with additional, bruising realities.
Somewhere south of bliss
There was, on the surface, a losing skid that was within two games of making it the worst nosedive since the Tigers lost 19 in a row in 1975.
Fortunately for Toronto's crisis counselors, given that the Tigers have another game with the Blue Jays on Monday, Gardenhire's guys ended their ledge-walk with Sunday's romp.
Winning didn't erase all the upheaval from last week's firing of pitching coach Chris Bosio. The axing of Bosio, reportedly for calling an African-American clubhouse attendant a "monkey" during a rant, rocked the clubhouse and turned Tigers officials stone-silent because of the potential litigation Bosio can mount against them and Commissioner Rob Manfred's office.
It turns out Bosio and the Tigers had not enjoyed the happiest of marriages in the months since he was hired. The friction was compartmentalized, for sure, mainly because Bosio had done a generally pleasing job with Tigers pitchers.
But there had been deep fractures between Bosio and the coaching staff, and, from what can be discerned, deeper splits between Bosio and his bosses.
The clubhouse incident could be seen as a convenient way in which to jettison a coach the team had soured on.
But that appears, genuinely, not to have been the case. Bosio as a baseball coach was handling business in a way the Tigers found digestible.
It was the Monday night incident, singularly, and his refusal to apologize, which ended his time in Detroit.
Other issues remain, if not as thorny or as troubling as the Tigers split with Bosio.
The Tigers aren't sure about July and the trade deadline. They would love to make a couple of deals on a par with those pulled last summer when they got busy re-stocking their minors and re-bolting their big-league roster.
This year is different. The market is flooded with sellers and the Tigers have few hot-ticket pitchers or players other teams want, at least at a price that makes sense to general manager Al Avila.
It's not a huge setback in that some trade chips (Michael Fulmer) could be more alluring during the offseason, or even next July. But it isn't ideal when the Tigers are pushing to re-seed as much of their farm as they can in a bid to have an authentic, long-term contender a few seasons from now.
The Tigers have another issue to ponder in these early days of July, at least if you poll fans.
He is batting .238, with a .623 OPS. He is the team's designated hitter.
A personal feeling is Martinez finishes well south on any list of pressing Tigers problems. But it's also appreciated that he is a lineup regular, he cannot run, and five months before he turns 40, he can no longer hit in the elegant fashion of a man who for so many years defined hitting artistry.
Martinez almost certainly will decide to play out these final three months of his contract and his big-league career. The Tigers must pay him for the remainder of the season and aren't interested in cutting loose a player of his distinction when he contributed so much to some of their heyday playoff teams.
If they cut him, they'd still be in a hole at DH. They would need to shop for a player, or fill DH with a lazy-Susan arrangement. Dipping into the minors isn't an option. They would be nuts to bring up a prospect like Christin Stewart and begin his service time when it's better for Stewart to stick at Triple A, working on his game, both ways.
If they were contending, absolutely it's a different story. But they're the team they were inevitably going to be in 2018. They are heading for another early draft pick in 2019, about the time that their farm-system prizes, their young starting pitching, begin to show in Detroit.
Martinez can ride it out for 12 more weeks. It's the right way to close his eight-year run in Detroit. The Tigers knew when owner Mike Ilitch wanted Martinez four years ago and a four-year deal was his market price that the last year was going to be dicey.
It's here, and it's not pretty. But this is not the summer to drop a guillotine on the head of a man who deserves to finish his contract with the Tigers, no matter that plenty of at-bats will make everyone ache as what was, and what now is, become all the clearer.