Detroit — This time it feels much different for Cameron Maybin.
And there are few players who can compare Detroit Tigers teams over the last decade or so like Maybin.
When Maybin signed as a free agent last winter, it marked the beginning of his third stint with the Tigers.
The Tigers drafted Maybin in the first round (10th overall) in 2005, and he reached the majors in 2007 before going to Florida in the trade that brought Miguel Cabrera to Detroit.
So now, Maybin wears a Tigers jersey for a third time. But if there’s one thing that stands out this time, it’s the type of roster this team boasts.
“The age makes it a lot different,” Maybin said. “My two other go-arounds here, we were a lot older and lot more experienced. Right now, we have more youth and in a short season, that could play to our advantage.
“They’re ready to go. Definitely a lot different. A lot more athletic, a lot of youth. Guys running around and making things happen, and young arms on the mound.”
Not that Maybin sees all this youth as a detriment.
“I’m very encouraged with the talent I see coming in here each and every day,” Maybin said.
Especially the enthusiasm and energy Maybin has seen in these opening days of summer camp, as the Tigers prepare for 60-game shortened season later this month.
“I like the energy, the young confidence,” Maybin said. “I like the excitement of being around guys around here, they’re excited to play. Nobody is lulling around here and dreading being here. They’re excited, and each individual is getting ready to go.”
Maybin, 33, spent last season with the New York Yankees, playing in 82 games (.285 average, 11 home runs, 32 RBIs).
After signing with the Tigers, then watching baseball and practically the entire world pause due to the coronavirus pandemic, there was no thought of opting out of this shortened 60-game version of a season.
“I love playing,” Maybin said. “I’m 33 and I want to play as long as they let me. I feel like I have a lot of good baseball left. For me, personally, I’m doing everything I can to stay healthy and limit my contact with people and distance with people and continue to train.
“My mindset was staying ready and prepared so when the call came, there was no playing catch up.”
Maybin had the rare opportunity to spend time with his family, including his oldest son who is 12, this time of year during the pandemic, when the major league season is usually in full force.
It also gave Maybin an opportunity to stay sharp.
“The last three months have been a dramatic change for everybody,” Maybin said. “I was very fortunate to have a lot of accessibility at my house to train and hit, I have a cage in my house, and a 12-year-old who is in full baseball mode. Travel baseball is still going on, so I had a throwing and hitting partner every day. The only thing I couldn’t do is live at-bats.
“My son has always been a huge fan of the game. He’s already a student of the game and he loves everything about it. I’ve been waiting for this age to play catch and just to spend that quality time with him. This is an important time for a 12-year-old to have his father around, so it was somewhat a blessing in disguise to be at home.
“I really enjoyed it.”
Maybin is looking forward to the start of intrasquad games, the next phase of this camp.
“The competitive juices are already flowing,” Maybin said of the roster. “Guys have been sitting around and getting antsy for four months and wanting to play. It’s been exciting the last two days just to see live pitching and getting the adrenaline going. I’m just ready to get things going.”