Spring dingers: Tigers continue to flex home run power, hit three more vs. O’s

Detroit News

Lakeland, Fla. — The Tigers hit fewer home runs than any team in baseball last season, 110 in 162 games. After clubbing three bombs in their 10-3 Grapefruit League win over the Orioles Thursday, they’ve now hit 15 in six spring games.

So, manager AJ Hinch was jokingly asked afterwards, that whole power thing is fixed, right?

“Woah, woah, woah,” he said, laughing.

“We’ve had some good swings,” he went on. “We put up some good at-bats as the game went along. It’s fun to see us put some good at-bats together like that.”

But all the usual qualifiers about spring dingers apply. Understood.

More:BOX SCORE: Tigers 10, Orioles 3

The scoring came in two five-run barrages, after Orioles’ top pitching prospect Grayson Rodriguez and former Tigers’ draft pick Spenser Watkins blanked them through the first four innings.

Right-handed hitting Tyler Nevin, the former Oriole, won a nine-pitch battle against right-hander Joey Krehbiel, blasting a fastball 399 feet into the visitors’ bullpen in right-center with two runners on.

Third base prospect Andre Lipcius followed with a home run just over the wall in left.

It was the second homer of the spring for both, the second in two days for Nevin, who is in the thick of the infield battle with Cesar Hernandez, Andy Ibanez, Ryan Kreidler and Jermaine Palacios and others.

“They are all stating a nice case to be included,” Hinch said. “Their strengths are very obvious. Nevin has handled some right-handed pitching the last couple of days and that’s good to see. He’s had a good couple of days.

“I hope they make it extremely difficult on us and Nevin’s day today is a good example of how they can do that.”

More:Tigers’ Matthew Boyd showcases live fastball, deadly slider solid in spring debut

In the seventh inning it was Parker Meadows’ turn. He very impressively locked onto a 97 mph fastball from Orioles reliever Yennier Cano and sent it 423 feet, again into the visitors’ bullpen in right-center. It was his second homer of the spring, too.

Eric Haase, Nick Maton, Meadows, Lipcius and Nevin all have two homers.

FAEDO INCHING FORWARD

Alex Faedo hasn’t been talked about much this camp.

Because he’s coming off hip surgery, he’s been on a somewhat slower ramp. Of the rather large group of starting pitchers vying for one or two bulk-inning reliever roles in the Tigers’ bullpen, he might be lagging just a step behind the likes of Beau Brieske, Garrett Hill, Rule 5 draftee Mason Englert and Rony Garcia.

But, as he showed in his spring debut against the Blue Jays on Tuesday, he’s not rehabbing anymore.

“I felt very good,” said Faedo, who walked one and struck out one in a scoreless inning. “Every day I feel a little better. I’m still trying to figure everything out, but I still feel good.”

His metrics were perhaps more encouraging than the raw results. He threw 10 four-seam fastballs with an average velocity of 93 mph, with 111 rpm more spin than he averaged last season. He threw eight sliders, getting two swings-and-misses on four swings. He had an increase spin of 92 rpm.

Neither of those spin rates are game-changing by any stretch, but it’s positive reinforcement for the mechanical adjustments he’s made. He has essentially gone back to the lower arm angle he used earlier in his career.

“It’s new but it’s old,” he said. “I’m trying to get back to where I was, back to where I should be. It feels comfortable, but at the same time, you are doing something a little different. I still need to work at it every day.”

Hinch said there are no restrictions on Faedo right now. As he put it, borrowing some football parlance, he’s not wearing a red jersey.

“I was just glad he wasn’t worried about his previous injury,” Hinch said. “He wasn’t holding back. He’s pretty interesting in terms of how he can deal with right-handed hitters (with the old-new arm angle). As camp goes on, we’re going to try to put him in a position to face some left-handed hitters.”

It was heartening, Hinch said, to hear Faedo in the dugout talking about pitching and not about health.

“With someone who ended a season injured and is coming into the next season, you’re just looking for freedom of movement to go pitch and not rehab. That was not a rehab stint for him. He’s cleared and he handled it accordingly.”

GAME BITS

…Prospect Colt Keith, who was expected to leave camp to tend to a family issue, has remained in town and got into the game Thursday. Most of his family is here with him in Lakeland.

…Catcher Jake Rogers stole second base. “He wanted to remind me he could still run a little bit,” Hinch joked. “I told him he should have taken off two pitches earlier.”

…Spencer Torkelson, who has hit the ball hard for outs on a couple of at-bats, broke an 0-for-10 with his first hit of the spring.

…It was a rough outing for right-hander Garrett Hill. He threw 46 pitches in two innings, only 21 strikes. He walked three and hit former Tiger Daz Cameron in the ribs. Still, he limited the damage to a single run.

…Right-handed reliever Brendan White was impressive. He pitched a scoreless third, going through the top of the Orioles’ order, showcasing is high-spin slider. The average rpm on the eight that he threw was 2,883.

chris.mccosky@detroitnews.com

Twitter@cmccosky

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