New-look Tigers say they'll still be good

Tom Gage and Tony Paul
The Detroit News

Detroit — Yes, the Tigers look different in 2015 than they did in 2014.

A lot different, in fact.

But the whole notion that Detroit's best opportunity has passed it by doesn't sit well with the Tigers, manager Brad Ausmus said Thursday.

"They say the door's closing on the Detroit Tigers," he told a crowd of employees at Lipari Foods in Warren. "The door's not closing."

Ausmus acknowledged the rotation suffered some losses, but with the additions of Yoenis Cespedes and Anthony Gose and the continued development of Nick Castellanos and J.D. Martinez, he proclaimed the offense will be even better.

"Why are we going to be good again this year?" second baseman Ian Kinsler asked. "For one reason, we have one of the best hitters in the game (Miguel Cabrera) hitting in front of Victor Martinez — and, for another, we have one of the best hitters in the game (Victor Martinez) hitting behind Miguel Cabrera"

In fact, said Kinsler, "I think we'll be stronger this year than last."

Pick up the pace

One of the beauties of baseball: No clock.

But for how long?

Major League Baseball is exploring adding 30-second pitch clocks, and while the league has slowed the effort enough to just keep it in the minor leagues in 2015, clearly it's on its way as baseball tries a way to rid the sport of four-hour games.

As you can imagine, pitchers think there's got a be a better way to speed things up.

"I don't know. Hitters are regularly adjusting their helmets, gloves, elbow guards, shin guards, foot guards," David Price said, laughing. "I don't want the whole emphasis to be on pitchers."

Around the horn

... A year of managing appears to have taken no toll on Ausmus. He looks like he can still catch and surf — or the other way around.

Tigers' starter Shane Greene isn't putting the pressure on himself about having to "replace" Max Scherzer.

"I don't want to be the next Max Scherzer," he said. "I want to be the first Shane Greene"

Asked which Tigers' starter, past or present, that Greene might be most like, based on his repertoire, pitching coach Jeff Jones replied, "Rick Porcello."

... Efficient Kate Ready is leaving the Tigers to go work for MLB in New York. She's been the Tigers media relations coordinator.

... Tigers' hitting coach Wally Joyner — diligent as always — has spoken to Chili Davis, who "coached (Yoenis Cespedes) for a few years in Oakland," said Joyner, "and he loved the guy. I think Yoenis has a great understanding of the strike zone, incredible power, and from what I hear his favorite player is Miguel Cabrera.

"So I think he'll fit right in here."

... Where have you gone, Melvin Mercedes? The big right-hander was designated for assignment this winter, was re-signed by the Tigers to a minor-league contract, but did not get an invite to major-league spring training. Bottom line, you still need more than a fastball, Melvin.

... Alex Avila and his wife are expecting their second child in March — which they've learned will be a second daughter. His first daughter, nearly 2-year-old Avery Noelle, kept Alex busy at Disneyland this winter.