Welcome to full-squad session Monday. I woke this morning with a thankfulness that although there are plenty of things to find frustration with when it comes to the front office of the Detroit Tigers, at least they aren’t the Seattle Mariners and the special brand of leadership they have with President Kevin Mather. There’s a lot of news out there to get to, so let’s do it.
Miguel Cabrera has reported to camp, and is ready to get things going. The offseason was sprinkled with some discussion about Cabrera’s role on the team, and mainly centered around how much first base he is going to play. Manager AJ Hinch intends to talk things through with the elder statesman of the Tigers clubhouse to set expectations.
“Sitting down with him over the next few days, we’ll lay out his spring for him and tell him what our expectations are and get his feedback on the at-bats and totals that he wants. We want to keep him healthy, but we need to get him ready. Getting feedback from him is going to be key.”
Miggy has already started taking reps at first base, and having him there for some amount of time is a given. Hinch intends to be very careful balancing the amount of time Cabrera actually spends in the field saying that he doesn’t want to play him so much at first that it “hinders his availability throughout the rest of the week.”
When he is in the field, the team will have a variety of options to fill in at the DH spot including the likes of Jeimer Candelario, Wilson Ramos, Nomar Mazara, Jonathan Schoop, and Robbie Grossman.
However things shake out for playing time, Hinch knows he’s managing a player who is going to have a large impact on some young hitters coming through the system while chasing a few important career milestones. Managing that situation effectively is going to be an important job.
The defense can’t rest
Jake Rogers’ ticket to major league playing time has always been bolstered heavily by his defensive abilities. Going into the 2021 season, AJ Hinch has put an emphasis on that fact for the young catcher. Rogers has, and should, worked on improving the offensive side of things, but there is a theory that 2020 saw him put a level of focus on his offense that was detrimental to his defensive capability. What Hinch seems to be focused on — and wants Rogers to be focused on as well — is that offensive improvement is welcomed, but if his defense slips, that’s where he’s going to lose his chance at playing time.
Confidence in Casey
There is no lack of confidence in Casey Mize’s stuff. Not on behalf of the Tigers staff, and certainly not on behalf of the young hurler himself. What remains the focus for helping him take a step forward is command and usage. First pitch strikes and the ability to utilize the high fastball and the splitter at any point in an at bat are the types of things we’re talking about here, and that seems to be what Mize and the coaching staff will be focusing on this spring.
Its about precision
Speaking of command and location, if you want to see someone who has made their career on those two things you need look no further than Tyler Alexander. Alexander found success last year in the type of bulk reliever role that Daniel Norris also slotted into, and the key to his success certainly wasn’t velocity. Alexander tops out around 90-91 mph, and he will tell you himself why that works for him.
“Location is first, then movement and velocity is third,”
Alexander dove into the analytics a little more heavily this off season with a focus on getting a little more vertical break on his four seam fastball, but he’s not looking to change anything drastically. He knows his strengths, he’s using them, and he’s getting recognized for it.
There has been a flurry of activity — and rumored activity — around the organization and efforts to shore up the pitching staff as we approach the full start of spring training. The most recent acquisition for the team is Julio Tehran, who they hope has a return to the kind of performances he displayed from 2013 to 2019. While Al Avila has been open about the team’s desire to add more arms AJ Hinch finds himself in a tougher spot.
“I’m not going to look my players in the face or be quoted saying we need more pitching. That’s not showing confidence in the group that we have.”
If the Tigers have another signing or two, I’m sure he’ll work with whatever he’s given, but Hinch believes, as I guess he kinda has to, that he’s got what he needs and he’s going to focus on that.
Baseball will make you feel old
Remember watching a young Prince Fielder jack dingers? Remember watching him play for the Tigers and the novelty of it being Cecil Fielder’s kid. Well, let me introduce you to the third generation of a family genetically pre-disposed to annihilating baseballs. Prince Fielder’s son — Cecil Fielder’s grandson — is making me feel a bit aged (Although I could still likely get around the bases faster than his 32 second trot). I love the swing, the light batflip, and the audio commentary. Everything about this video is great.
Around the Horn
Is a Rick Porcello reunion in the works? Bryan Garcia treats every inning like the ninth. Ian Desmond opts out for another season. Joey Wentz eyes a mid-season return to action. Zach Hess needs to throw 100 or he’s getting some ink done.