LAKELAND, Fla. — It was enough to make you dream about the future.
The Detroit Tigers unveiled an interesting group of prospects on one of the back fields at Tiger Town on Monday morning during the first full-squad practice.
It included Daniel Pinero at first base, Kody Clemens at second base, Zack Short at shortstop and Spencer Torkelson, the 2020 No. 1 overall pick, at third base.
They started with infield drills, where Torkelson worked on charging bunts and making clean throws, even earning a pat on the back from Matthew Boyd. For the most part, he was spot on. One throw, however, went wild — over Pinero’s head and toward the bullpen.
His transition to third base is a work in progress.
Then, Torkelson took batting practice and he promptly hit a couple of home runs, making hard contact to all fields, showing off that sweet, smooth swing.
Yes, it was just batting practice.
But still, seeing Torkelson on the field with some of these other youngsters makes you dream about the future.
Because six position players will be late for camp, Hinch guaranteed Torkelson and Riley Greene will get at-bats in the early spring training games. Unless there’s an injury, Torkelson won’t play first base.
“Those to players, in particular, are the beneficiaries of a delay in camp for (Jonathan) Schoop, (Renato) Nunez, (Nomar) Mazara and (Victor) Reyes,” Hinch said. “Early in camp, you got a lot of at-bats. And Riley and Spencer will both get some of those, along with some other players.”
Greene looking smooth
On another field, Riley Greene, the Tigers 2019 first-round pick, started out doing outfield drills.
He drew an assortment of positive feedback from the coaches.
“Attaboy!” a coach yelled after a fine play.
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Greene went to right field to shag balls in batting practice. But then he moved to center. He looked smooth and fit, moving well in the outfield.
Miggy breaks out his glove again
During drills, Miguel Cabrera played first base.
It’s not unusual for Cabrera to play first during spring training drills. But he didn’t play there once last year. He was the designated hitter in 56 games last year and appeared in one as a pinch hitter.
But Cabrera, who is entering his 19th season, is expected to get some time at first this season.
When Cabrera plays first, it keeps him happy and it will actually allow Hinch to use some other players as the designated hitter.
Cabrera approached his batting practice session the same way he always does. In his first round, he flicked ball to right field. Then, he got more serious, hitting line drives. By his last session, he hammered some home runs.
Six pitchers, each paired with a catcher, tossed bullpens: Jose Cisnero (with Wilson Ramos), Alex Lange (with Eric Haase), Franklin Perez (with Dillon Dingler), Kyle Funkhouser (with Dustin Garneau), Daniel Norris (with Jake Rogers) and Zack Hess (with Grayson Greiner).
This was Perez’s first bullpen of camp, and Dingler met with him for a quick chat beforehand. During the bullpens, pitching coach Chris Fetter and assistant pitching coach Juan Nieves roamed the group, sometimes halting the action to give lessons about mechanics and pitch selection.
Before those six pitchers started bullpens, Michael Fulmer tossed a handful of pitches under Fetter’s close watch. The veteran righty is throwing live to hitters Tuesday, so he wanted to get a better feel for his stuff.
“It’s for a timing mechanism he’s working on,” Hinch said. “It takes a little bit of work off the slopes. That’s what he was doing.”
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Jeimer Candelario made a fine play at third base, moving quickly to his right.
He spent the offseason working on his flexibility.
“I didn’t play the last few games, because my back was a little bit tight,” he said after the workout on Monday. “So I really put a lot of effort on that, on working in Dominican, my flexibility.”