Detroit — It would not be an authentic big-league series in the early weeks of 2018’s calendar if there weren’t grievous weather concerns for the Tigers.
They had a batch more of them Friday night as a weekend set with the Yankees was to get rolling at Comerica Park.
Rain was expected to move into Detroit at some point in the evening. The Tigers, privately, were hoping to get in at least five innings and sew up a complete game, which appeared to be more of a mandate because of Saturday’s and Sunday’s forecasts.
Saturday’s prospects were particularly bleak. Rain was in the mix for nearly the entire day and night, with temperatures falling from the low 40s into the 30s. Sunday was also supposed to be wet.
Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire had weather on his mind as he sat at his desk, focused on a laptop with radar readings showing a blue band of rain to the west, headed straight for Detroit.
Asked if he longed for his old managerial days in Minnesota when the Twins played most of his tenure within the weather-proof Metrodome, Gardenhire grimaced and said, instantly:
He added that there were “a lot of good memories of the Metrodome” but that as a baseball venue, he would take Comerica Park.
There remains this problem that won’t seem to ease in April. Too much moisture. Too much cold.
Should the Tigers and Yankees lose one, or both, of the weekend games, schedule rearrangements are not easy when this is New York’s lone visit in 2018.
The Tigers could perhaps play a day-night doubleheader Sunday should Saturday’s game become a casualty and Sunday’s skies improve.
If they can’t complete their three games this weekend, they will need to arrange at least one game, and perhaps two, on one of their mutual days off. There are some common dates there: May 24, June 4, 11, and 18, as well as July 30, Aug. 20, and Sept. 13.
All the two teams could do Friday night was hope for some early-evening mercy, get something close to an official game in the bag, and then prepare for yet another bleak baseball outlook Saturday and Sunday.
Never mind that the Yankees had left-handed starter Jordan Montgomery starting Friday night’s game.
There would be no match-up break for Leonys Martin, who was working on back-to-back, three-hit games, which included a home run and double.
“He’s swinging good,” Gardenhire said. “He’s been aggressive, real aggressive swinging.
“As I said to him, ‘Just be you.’ If he gets a fastball he takes a whack at it.”
Martin is a left-handed batter who was hitting .295 as he dressed for Friday’s first night game of the year at Comerica Park. He is 30 years old and by no means a newcomer to the big leagues. He played five seasons with the Rangers and one with the Mariners, three as a regular, ahead of the Tigers signing him in December.
His career batting average: .248. Gardenhire understands there could be a lid on Martin’s offense, but that he could also lay waste to those career numbers if some elements have been figured out in 2018.
“If he tries to get out of his mode,” the manager said, referring to over-swinging and over-attacking, “I’ll talk with him.”
But the skipper isn’t expecting or worrying about any such chat. Martin entered Friday as a hot leadoff hitter in a lineup that this season was begging for one.
Tigers pitching coach Chris Bosio remains on the shelf for a couple of weeks with an ailment the Tigers aren’t disclosing. It has left them with a rearranged coaching staff and with a minor-league guru they don’t care to lose.
Rick Anderson has moved from duties as bullpen coach to filling in as Gardenhire’s pitching coach. A.J. Sager, the Tigers’ roving minor-league pitching instructor, is subbing as bullpen coach.
“A.J.’s still here till they yank him away and we get Boz back,” said Gardenhire, who isn’t at all displeased with his shuffled staff.
Bosio, however, is the man Gardenhire and his pitchers have come to view as Mr. Essential in these early days of 2018, when a staff’s overall work has been a plus.
He is resting at home and is expected to return as early as the end of this month.