Welcome to March, and welcome to the next step in the trudge toward opening day. We have baseball to watch. It’s starting pitchers going one inning and hitters getting a couple at bats before dudes whose names we don’t know get subbed in, but it’s baseball. In the first of such games, the Tigers swapped lead off home runs with the Phillies on the way to a 10-2 win that saw Joe Girardi use the weird new mercy rule to end the first inning shelling of old friend Ivan Nova after only two outs, and the removal of a very vocal and quite likely inebriated fan, because we have those again. Let’s get to the links.
Miguel Cabrera is entering spring with two major milestones within reach for the 2021 season. He’s 13 home runs away from 500 and 134 hits from 3,000. He has his eyes on hitting both this year. Injuries will be the focus. They have derailed things for Cabrera a bit hampering his performance. The last time we saw something that looked like the Miggy we all know and love was 2016. That’s five years ago. The team, and Cabrera, hope that some limited opportunities to play first base throughout the season will help to keep him healthy and happy for the season.
Next step for Jones
The career for JaCoby Jones in Detroit has been one of fits and starts. Injuries have kept him off the field for significant periods of time, but when he has been able to play he has shown flashes of the kind of player the organization hopes he can become. The word become is important, because — at the age of 29 — he is still seen as an unfinished product. A big focus for Jones’ development — and for the team in general — is defense. That’s where George Lombard comes in to assist A.J. Hinch, and he’s bringing a level of detail that Jones has not yet seen and is very open to adopting.
Jones also comes in — wait for it — possibly the best shape of his life having shed 18 pounds from last year. In addition to defense Jones wants to focus more on stealing some bases this year, and smart but aggressive baserunning is another organization wide focus. I feel like we’ve heard that every year since Brad Ausmus took over, but I have more faith that this year might be the first time we actually see it materialize.
Making the most of an opportunity
Derek Holland is coming off a promising outing on Sunday. His fastball sat mid-nineties and he said everything was feeling good. A long time starter, he is in camp with the Tigers eyeing a likely bullpen roll for him in 2021. That is if he makes the team. It’s a position Holland is used to, and he’s happy to have the chance. His focus is to keep improving, make the most of his opportunities, and hopefully carve out a role with the major league club.
Betting on Julio
Another pitcher in camp on a minor league deal is Julio Teheran. Teheran — who was apparently working on a major league deal with another club when the Tigers made the minor league offer that he took — knows he is in a position where he either shows he belongs or he ends up unemployed at the end of the month. Julio is betting on himself. He spent the off season working with former Tiger Anibal Sanchez on some pitching adjustments. He’s happy with his mechanics and is looking forward to proving what he can do.
Spring training is open for limited fan attendance this year and fans seem quite eager to get to Florida and Arizona to attend some games. Facilities are operating at limited capacity, and people are really stoked to see some live baseball. The result of that is some eye popping prices being paid for tickets to spring games. On the secondary market, the average ticket price is $56.00 with people dropping as much as $260.00 to watch what amounts to practice. It will be interesting to see if this temporary spike impacts ticket prices in any way for the future.
Baseball is awesome
but Angel Hernandez still sucks. You’re gonna want the volume on for this one.
Around the horn
Baseball legends honored in MLB’s Black History Month art series. Trey Mancini returns after recovering from colon cancer. MLB wants you to tell them about your favorite baseball card. The Royals give Hunter Dozier a four year extension.