Victor Reyes in camp, but Tigers still waiting on Renato Nunez, Jonathan Schoop
Lakeland, Fla. — The Tigers, as they enter the third week of full-squad work, are just about at full camp capacity.
Outfielder Victor Reyes passed the COVID-19 intake testing and was cleared for all activities on Sunday. He went through a full team workout on the backfields. First baseman and non-roster invitee Renato Nunez should be cleared by Tuesday.
Second baseman Jonathan Schoop has arrived in Lakeland. It’ll take a few days for him to clear protocols and get his athletic physical completed.
“We’re one step closer,” manager AJ Hinch said.
Rookie outfielder Daz Cameron has been in camp, but not as a full participant because of a right elbow injury he sustained in the Puerto Rican Winter League.
“I met with Daz (Saturday),” Hinch said. “He should be ready to take live batting practice next week with Reyes and Nunez. We’re lining up some simulated games for them. But mid-week or later next week, he should be able to DH in a game.
“He’s been on a throwing program, but he’s not cleared to play the outfield.”
For Schoop and Reyes, players whose spots on the roster are mostly set, the late start isn’t a big concern for Hinch. Especially after he’s seen other late starters like Isaac Paredes and Nomar Mazara come in shape and get up and running quickly.
For Nunez, though, it’s a little more problematic. His performance, especially defensively, could hold the key to how the roster is shaped. With him missing so much time, Hinch and his staff have been able to get longer looks at players like Harold Castro, Greg Garcia and Paredes.
The Tigers are hoping Nunez, who hit 31 home runs with the Orioles in 2019 and 12 in 52 games last year, can show quickly that he’s not a defensive liability at first. If he does that, then other spots fall more easily into place — like Jeimer Candelario settling in at third and Paredes then battling Harold Castro and Garcia for the second utility spot.
The one player still not in country is veteran reliever Wily Peralta. And there is still no timetable for him to be in camp. Signed to a minor-league deal, it seems likely he will have to start the season either in the extended spring training minicamp in Lakeland, or at the Triple-A alternate site in Toledo.
Popping a squat
Two years ago, Wilson Ramos was charged with 10 passed balls. That was the year he changed his stance behind the plate, working with one knee down.
“I was trying to raise the low pitch (frame it) better,” he said. “But if I put my left knee on the ground, I’m not able to move well or throw to the base.”
His caught-stealing percentage dropped to a career low 15%.
So, he’s made a compromise. He will set up on one knee with nobody on base. But with runners on, he goes back to a traditional squat.
“He is still comfortable being on two feet,” Hinch said. “You’ve got to be able to move and throw and get his back foot under him. It’s kind of been a trendy thing to do in the big leagues, staying down on one knee even with runners on base. But Ramos will be more agile and athletic if he stays up.”
Nobody said it'd be easy
Spencer Torkelson, the first overall pick in the 2020 draft, is still waiting for his first hit this spring. He struck out twice Sunday in the 5-1 win over the Blue Jays. In 10 at-bats he's walked three times and struck out five times.
"He's handling it fine," Hinch said. "He's frustrated that he's not having success. Nobody likes to punch out. He's getting behind in a lot of counts and that's going to lead to a lot of strikeouts, I don't care who you are.
"George Lombard (bench coach) and I were talking during the game, like, after he signed his contract, nobody said it would be easy. He's going to be challenged and it's good for him."
Around the horn
The Tigers brought two more prospects to the minicamp — outfielder Parker Meadows and shortstop Ryan Kreidler. “The organization wanted to get some of the younger guys extra work — almost like a mini-instructional league,” Hinch said. “This is driven by player development. We’ll probably be able to get Kreidler into a game faster than Meadows, because we’re going to need some infield coverage.”
… Hinch has set the pitching schedule for after the universal day off Monday. Spencer Turnbull and Daniel Norris will pitch Tuesday against the Yankees; Matthew Boyd, Tyler Alexander and Matt Manning will go Wednesday at Phillies; Michael Fulmer and Tarik Skubal will go Thursday at the Blue Jays in a seven-inning game.
… Right-hander Franklin Perez, who got a late start to camp, is scheduled to make his spring debut Wednesday at the Phillies.