Tigers' Spencer Turnbull shines in scrimmage as Opening Day looms

Rod Beard
The Detroit News

Detroit — In his outing last week in Tigers Summer Camp, Spencer Turnbull retired the first eight batters before running into trouble. It was a continuation of a solid preseason for the projected No. 2 starter as the start of the regular season approaches next week.

Turnbull was even better in Thursday’s start of the intra-squad scrimmage at Comerica Park, needing just 44 pitches to get through four innings — without giving up a hit.

With good control and confidence, Turnbull retired all 12 batters he faced and notched six strikeouts, continuing his hot start that began in spring training in Lakeland, Fla.

Tigers pitcher Spencer Turnbull works on the mound during an intrasquad game at Detroit Tigers Summer Camp at Comerica Park in Detroit on July 16, 2020.

Turnbull started the first inning with a strikeout of Willi Castro and ended with another on Cameron Maybin. He ended his outing with his sixth strikeout, getting Maybin on 96 mph fastball.

“Mostly, I was proud of the way I was finishing innings,” Turnbull said on the Fox Sports Detroit broadcast. “I stayed in my mechanics and didn’t try to do too much except maybe to Maybin. I never got out of my mentality except for one pitch and I was able to focus back in.

“I felt pretty good, especially in that last inning.”

In his four innings, Turnbull allowed just four balls to the outfield and none with much power behind it.

“The ball was really coming out of his hand. I had a good conversation with (catcher Austin) Romine about it and he said basically the same thing,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. “His ball is moving all over the place and it’ll be a work in progress to get to learn what he likes to do and doesn’t like to do.

“Romine likes working with him and he said his stuff is filthy.”

More:Local product John Schreiber looking to make lasting impact despite shortened season

Turnbull said he’s been working on his confidence, looking to make sure he didn’t give hitters an edge at the plate because he didn’t project that confidence. That’s translated to better outings in the spring and summer so far, with the start of the season still on the horizon.

“He’s got confidence and sometimes like a lot of pitchers, they overthink situations and as Romine says, he’s going to trust me,” Gardenhire said. “When I put the finger down, I don’t want to see (the pitcher shaking off the call).”

Tigers' Miguel Cabrera beats the tag by catcher Grayson Greiner at home plate during an intrasquad game at Detroit Tigers Summer Camp at Comerica Park in Detroit on July 16, 2020.

Miggy on the move

Miguel Cabrera had an eventful day — and not just at the plate — on Thursday. After a walk in the third inning, Cabrera motored around the bases to score from first on a triple to right-center by Jeimer Candelario.

The play featured a tiring Cabrera sliding in at the plate to beat the relay throw.

In his next at-bat, Cabrera was facing Shao-Ching Chiang and hit a hot shot back to the mound, which Chiang alertly grabbed as it was coming back toward his face. Cabrera playfully gestured to Chiang, who smiled at the interplay.

In his final at-bat, Cabrera had a sharp single to right and was removed for a pinch-runner.

Cron crushes homers

C.J. Cron had a pair of home runs Thursday, with one off of Dario Agrazal in the first inning and the other against Shao-Ching Chiang in the fifth.

Cron provides needed power to protect Miguel Cabrera in the lineup and seeing the early power surge in Summer Camp is a welcome addition.

“He just likes to hit. He’s healthy; he feels good,” Gardenhire said. “He had a little hand injury last year that hurt him or his numbers would have been better.

“He’s a very confident guy who’s sure of himself out there.”

From left, Tigers' Miguel Cabrera exits the cage as C.J. Cron enters during bating practice at Detroit Tigers Summer Camp at Comerica Park in Detroit on July 16, 2020.

Injury updates

Gardenhire said that outfielders Travis Demeritte (quad, groin) and JaCoby Jones are day-to-day but the Tigers wouldn’t be looking to rush them back to the lineup. Infielder Niko Goodrum, who didn’t play Thursday, just needed a day off, having played nearly every inning of every game in Summer Camp.

Derek Hill left the game because of a sore knee, but Gardenhire said the injury didn’t appear to be serious, stemming from a play in an intrasquad game this week.

“(It came on) the dive he made in the outfield the other day,” Garden hire said. “He hit his kneecap and that’s all it is, a bruise. We just got him out of there.”

Hill had a triple in the second inning and seemed to be moving fine around the basis, but Gardenhire said there was some soreness, so they opted to be cautious with Hill.


Twitter: @detnewsRodBeard