Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Two games in, 27 runs scored. Are the Tigers going to be an offensive juggernaut?

Okay, maybe that’s just a BIT too much in the way of  hyperbole, as we are still over 30 days from the start of the 2015 season.  Batters are usually ahead of pitchers at this point, less than 2 weeks into spring training. 

And yes, one of the two games was the Detroit Tigers annual exhibition kickoff game against Florida Southern University, winning 12-2. Apparently, missing both extra point attempts and allowing a safety. Oops- wrong sport, sorry.    

Yoenis Cespedes
Photo (Robin Buckson, Detroit News)
Detroit followed that up however, with a convincing 15-2 thumping of the Baltimore Orioles in the actual Grapefruit League opener. The Tigers scored 6 runs, 5 earned, off Orioles starter Ubaldo Jimenez, the 9-year veteran who compiled a disappointing 6-9 record in 2014, his first in a Baltimore uniform.  So it’s not as if the Tigers batters did all their damage against guys who will be playing at A-ball or lower this year.  New addition to the lineup, Yoenis Cespedes, launched a grand-slam in the 4th inning of his Grapefruit league debut. 

Reports out of Tigers camp early this spring, are saying that Detroit seems to have good depth, and will have better speed and defense than previous versions of the team going into the season. How well that will translate into wins vs. losses, remains to be seen. 

Victor Martinez
Photo (Julian H. Gonzalez, Detroit Free Press)
Off the field, Miguel Cabrera, coming off ankle surgery appears to be on track to start the campaign healthy, as does Victor Martinez, who just a month ago had surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his knee. 

Manager Brad Ausmus says that he’s never seen Justin Verlander throw better, “stuff-wise”, as he attempts to bounce back from his worst season since his rookie campaign of 2006. Of course Ausmus’ experience in watching Verlander first-hand only dates back to February 2014, so that evaluation probably needs to be taken lightly, but the news is encouraging.
photo (Julian H Gonzalez, Detroit Free Press)
Justin Verlander
photo (Julian H. Gonzalez, Detroit Free Press)

Cespedes, citing a heavy Latin influence in the Tigers clubhouse says he would like to stay in Detroit “long term” speaking through a translator, as the Tigers prepared for their first week of games in Florida. Then again, what's he going to say, I hate it here already?  Only A-Rod , or maybe Juan Gonzalez, would be that dumb.  

Meanwhile, Jose Iglesias, returning from stress fractures in both legs, that caused him to miss all of the 2014 season, appears to be doing well in his recovery, and a healthy Iglesias will be a key component in what the Tigers all hope will be an improved defense on the field. 

All in all, as the Tigers travel from Lakeland to Sarasota this afternoon, to take on the Orioles again, the Florida sun seems just a little bit warmer & brighter, and the grass seems a little bit greener. Oh, yeah, Anibal Sanchez gets the start for Detroit. 

Now, if only we could get that warm sun to melt the snow away back here in Michigan.  

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