Having closed out the last weekend of spring training baseball, we are a few short days away from the start of the season. The roster has been set and the team has two more warm ups before heading north. Let’s take a look at what folks are talking about.
The first bit of news emerged Monday morning, as one Renato Nuñéz appeared as a bench player when official lineups for this afternoon’s contest against the New York Yankees were released. Nuñéz has decided to accept his assignment to Toledo, rather than seek greener pastures, and so the Tigers will have to time to work with him at first base with an eye to a promotion later on this spring.
There may be terms, conditions, and opt-out dates attached, but this is good news. Nuñéz arrived in camp late due to the delays in passing through the COVID intake protocols, and never really got a chance to get things going. With the Tigers apparently set to play Miguel Cabrera and a cast of characters at first base, and the team still lacking power, getting more time to work with the 26-year-old Nuñéz is a positive development.
Versatility is the way
If you have been paying attention in any way to how the Tigers are operating under AJ Hinch, you’ll know what an important word versatility is to the new Manager. Hinch likes players that can do many things; Play multiple positions, switch hit, change the oil in your car and bake you a dozen cookies. As the final roster has rounded into form versatility was once again the name of the game. Jason Beck at mlb.com gives a good look at the full roster and what we’re likely to see everyone do.
Baddoo made it. What now?
The spring training legend of Akil Baddoo is a tale that will likely be recalled for years to come. Now that Baddoo has played his way onto the opening day roster, there is work to do to make sure that his story doesn’t end with one exceptional spring run. He might be the fifth outfielder, but that doesn’t mean he should be sitting back, getting comfortable and expecting to not do too much.
“I’m going to use him. We didn’t put him on the roster just to sit back and be the 26th guy. We’re going to test him and the next test is going to be in the big leagues in a real game,” Hinch said.
Baddoo isn’t going to see the kind of every day play he may have in spring, but it’s pretty obvious that he’s going to get his spots, whether it’s starting games or coming in late as a pinch runner or a defensive sub. How he handles that, and how he continues to develop will dictate what his future with this team looks like. I’m hoping it’s a long one.
How Mize made the cut
Casey Mize went into lastThursday night’s game knowing that he had something to prove if he wanted to make the opening day roster. Mize showed up. Evan Petzold of The Detroit Free Press has an inning by inning account of that start, what Mize did, and what Hinch and Mize both had to say about it. The short version: Everyone was pretty happy.
Say it ain’t so, Joe
There was a time when Joe Jimenez was the hands down heir apparent to the closer role in Detroit. It’s been a long frustrating journey over the last few years, and the latest stop on that trip is with Jimenez being demoted to Toledo to start the season. AJ Hinch still thinks there’s a valuable pitcher who can come up later in the year and handle high leverage situations in there. Jimenez just needs to do some work to find him.
I have a new favorite minor league team
Around the horn
As we approach April 1st, let’s revisit The Curious Case of Sidd Finch. Tony Clark says the Players Association is open to discussing moving the All Star Game out of Atlanta. One million vaccinations have been done at major league ball parks. The Phillies send Scott Kingery to the minors to start the season.