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Tigers' Matthew Boyd relishes first taste of live batting practice, 1-on-1 competition

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Detroit — Finally, some real baseball. Or, as close as many people have seen in a while.

For Tigers’ pitcher Matthew Boyd, it couldn’t have been more exciting or pleasing.

Tigers pitcher Matthew Boyd throws live batting practice Monday at Comerica Park.

Getting an opportunity to go against Miguel Cabrera, Niko Goodrum, Jonathan Schoop and C.J. Cron in live batting practice was an excellent way to get back into the rhythms of the game.

Never mind the fact Cabrera won his dual against Boyd.

Cabrera lined a Boyd pitch into the seats in right-center, opposite-field, showing the skills and ability Boyd has seen time and again.

“Miggy took me deep,” Boyd said on a Zoom conference call after Monday’s session at Comerica Park. “It’s pretty awesome to see him go opposite field on a line drive on a heater up. I missed my spot and he punished it.

“It’s fun to see Miggy do that — and I know what I need to do to be better from that.”

Boyd felt it was positive to face what could essentially be the top half of the Tigers’ lineup.

Cron, a free-agent acquisition last winter, has hit two home runs off Boyd in his career. Schoop, another free-agent addition, is a longtime proven major league hitter.

“Facing a guy like Crony is good, because over the past two years he’s hit two of my curveballs out for home runs,” Boyd said. “I don’t know why I’ve thrown it to him twice. I’ve faced Scopie ever year for the last five or six years and it seems like I face Miggy every spring training. It’s always fun to face the best hitter of our generation.

“It’s good competing out there. Anytime you get to compete, it’s what you live for. I’ve really had a lot of fun when you get to go head-to-head against some guys.”

On a team with a lot of question marks, Boyd appears to be one of the constants on an unproven roster.

Boyd was 9-12 with a 4.56 ERA, starting 32 games and throwing 185⅓ innings, with 238 strikeouts.

At age 29, Boyd is settling into a veteran role on this particular roster and likely could be manager Ron Gardenhire’s choice as the Opening Day (albeit Opening Day in July) starter.

In a season where every game will be vital, Boyd simply relishes the opportunity to pitch.

“I’ll be grateful when I get the ball, I’m grateful for today, and whenever Gardy flips me the ball,” Boyd said.

What’s pleased Boyd over the first few days of summer camp, as the Tigers prepare for this pandemic-shortened 60-game season, is the atmosphere around the clubhouse.

“Guys are in shape, ready to play,” Boyd said. “Everyone showed up in better shape than spring training, and it’s kind of awesome to see the camaraderie.  Guys who weren’t healthy are now healthy.

“It’s exciting to have the guys back and guys are ready to win and that’s the most important thing, going out and competing every pitch for 60 games — and hopefully more.”

That is, if the sport can get past obstacles and uncertainty the coronavirus already has dealt baseball, and might still the rest of the summer.

Several teams canceled workouts Monday because of delays in testing, and frustration is mounting on other teams because of results of tests coming back slowly or not at all.

The Tigers haven’t been affected that way — Boyd said he’s been tested three times already and has received favorable results — but Boyd, the Tigers’ player representative, was disappointed to hear the news around MLB.

“It’s unfortunate,” Boyd said of the testing hiccups. “That being said, this is a learning experience for everybody. I know MLB and CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) didn’t want that to happen. It’s a period of adjustments. That’s what this year is going to be; it’s going to be about adjusting.

“Obviously, I don’t think that’s going to be the norm. I know they are going to do everything they can to do what we set in the agreement and have that testing every other day and get the results back fast.

“We’re not even a week into this thing. It’s unfortunate, and I think every side looks at it as unfortunate. Everyone wants it to better, so we're all working for that. That's why we're taking every precaution in here. That's why we're wearing masks and why we have gloves on and we're staying a safe distance in the clubhouse. ”

ted.kulfan@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @tkulfan