Kinsler's internal clock boasts Swiss precision

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News

Cincinnati — Brandon Phillips' soft ground ball got past David Price and rolled slowly toward second base. This was Wednesday night, before the rains, before the bonus baseball and before Todd Frazier's walk-off grand slam.

Phillips may not be as fast as he once was, but he can still get down the line.

Ian Kinsler charged the ball, fielded it with his glove, made an almost imperceptible transfer to his throwing hand and calmly flipped the ball to first base. This was not a routine play, yet there was no hint of hurry with Kinsler. It was like he had envisioned the outcome of the play before it happened and knew precisely how much time he had.

He made the play so seemingly nonchalantly, he even fist-bumped with Price before the first-base umpire called Phillips out.

Few players have an internal clock as reliable as Kinsler.

"It probably took me five years, six years at the big league level to get to the point where I feel comfortable with any ball," he said. "I know the clock on any ball, any runner, whether it's a double play ball or just a ground ball.

"But quite honestly, the only way you can learn it is through repetition."

Kinsler admitted that he isn't always as calm as he makes it look.

"The more time you can give yourself, the less mistakes you are going to make," he said. "The better your clock is, the more calm you stay."

His internal clock was on display in the 10th inning, as well, when the Tigers executed a perfect outfield relay play to nab what would have been the winning run at the plate.

"A lot of that was how the ball bounced off the wall to J.D. (Martinez)," Kinsler said. "For him to be able to recover it and get it to me quick was key."

Jay Bruce was trying to score from first on a double into the right-field corner by Brayan Pena. Martinez played the carom, threw to Kinsler who relayed a one-hopper to catcher James McCann.

"I just tried to stay as calm as I can," Kinsler said. "I tried not to treat it like a game-winning, game-losing situation. Just stay calm, make sure you are in a good position, move your feet properly and make a good throw."

Nothing to it, right? With the game on the line, on a wet track. But again, there was no hurry from Kinsler, no visible sense of strain. Just an easy catch and throw.

"It was a fun play to be a part of," he said.