Detroit Tigers spring training links: Pitchers and catchers have reported for action

Bless You Boys

Wednesday, February 14 is the date we’ve been waiting on all offseason. Sure, Valentine’s Day is nice but have you seen report day for pitchers and catchers? As it turns out, the Tigers already have plenty of position players in camp, but the traditional starting point for spring camp is here, and we’re thrilled to see the club getting back to work.

Casey Mize comeback season engage

We got a look at Casey Mize, bearded and working with Jake Rogers with Tyler Holton in the background. The right-hander has now spent almost two full seasons on the shelf. He looks like he’s in great shape, and as he took care of a longstanding back issue while on the shelf with Tommy John surgery, perhaps even the best shape of his life. He should get his velocity and command back, but still needs to find a better breaking ball or manage to recapture the splitter magic he had in college to get his career back on track.

The two parties disagreed about his salary in January, but eventually worked it out by guaranteeing Mize the money he wanted while the Tigers got an option for 2025 that will help them keep Mize’s salary down next year should he return with a really strong season. Sounds like that’s all under the bridge, as you’d expect. Evan Woodbery at MLive has an unlocked feature on Mize for your enjoyment.

Javier Báez got to camp early

One of the first notes from the beat writers down in Lakeland earlier this week was the fact that shortstop Javier Báez was a week early to camp. After a brutal season in which his overemphasized struggles with sliders down and away gave way to bigger problems like struggling against fastballs and producing the weakest power marks of his career. Pitchers always threw him so many sliders away because he was dangerous against fastballs. This led to strikeouts, but also a lot of crushed hangers in his prime. As he struggled more with fastballs in 2023, pitchers didn’t even bother spinning him too much. He was just an easy out on the ground or popped up on a firm heater.

The Tigers say they had a good plan to get him back on track and kept in close touch this offseason. They sent coaches and trainers to work with him in Puerto Rico and tried to implement some changes in his swing mechanics. There hasn’t been a ton of detail, but considering his disastrous .177 batting average and meager .292 slugging percentage against fourseam fastballs in 2023, and even weaker numbers against sinkers, we’re going to bet that plenty of high velocity training was a big part of the program. Late in 2023, Báez was also trying to quiet his pre-pitch motion and keep his head more stable, so those elements are probably all involved in trying to get the 31-year-old shortstop back on track.

The bar for Javy Báez offensively isn’t even particularly high at this point. Projection systems expect him to have a better but still below average season and that’s going to have to do as the Tigers don’t have another option at shortstop yet. If Báez can just give them a few more bursts of power and continue playing good defense it would really help out, but it’s hard not to be skeptical right now.

Carlos Peña joins the broadcast

Other than hiring Jason Benetti to replace Matt Shepherd as the play-by-play man on the televised broadcasts, it looks like the rest of the crew will return. Craig Monroe, Kirk Gibson, Dan Petry, and Todd Jones will all do some color commentary and rotate between the booth and the studio. However, Carlos Peña has also been added as an analyst, and his work has generally been good on national broadcasts. We’re excited to see what he brings to the table. Perhaps once Benetti has the feel of the place we’ll start to see more significant changes to the broadcast overall, but Peña is a really good addition.

In terms of the radio crew, it still looks like we’re going to get Bobby Scales for half the games alongside Dan Dickerson, and Andy Dirks for about half the home games. When Benetti is called away for national assignments, Dickerson will take over as the television play-by-play man, while the Erie SeaWolves Greg Gania will again sub in on the radio for Dickerson.

The Tigers will also have a Spanish language broadcast featuring Carlos Guillen, the Tigers bilingual media relations coordinator, not the player, on play by play, with Barbaro Garbey, utilityman on the 1984 Tigers and one of original players to escape Cuba to play in the major leagues as the color commentator.

Jason Foley looks to expand his repertoire and his role in 2024

Right-hander Jason Foley has one of the better sinkers in baseball and he’s already made a nice career as a setup man with little else. However, in 2023 Foley really improved his slider into something more like an average breaking ball, and he started to show more feel for his 90-91 mph changeup as the season progressed.

Those changes made it easier for manager AJ Hinch to turn to him as an alternate closer able to handle left-handers more effectively than he used to. Foley is looking to expand his approach against lefties, working on his fourseam fastball and continuing to refine the changeup. The Tigers don’t have a bona fide closer, but do have plenty of closing options in Alex Lange, Foley, Tyler Holton, Shelby Miller, and Andrew Chafin, for starters. Foley wants to be sure he gets his shot at the closer’s role and I think we can expect AJ Hinch to try a lot of different combinations to hold leads in 2024.

Kids in camp

We got a few images of 2023 third overall pick Max Clark already this week. Clark is in camp, and has been posting some training video all offseason long. After a sluggish, though brief, start to his pro career, he should hit the ground running this year.

Rogelio Castillo took a look at prospect Wenceel Perez’s potential to help the club with his speed, contact ability, and defensive versatility for Motor City Bengals.

Petzold has a feature on Riley Greene’s offseason work. Beyond rehabbing the elbow, the Tigers and Greene developed a plan to add some muscle while maintaining speed and flexibility. Greene looks like he’s added 10 pounds of good muscle, worked a lot to strengthen stabilizing muscles and loosen up his hips. He told reporters he’s 100 percent ready to go this spring, and yes I think Riley Greene would argue he’s in the best shape of his life.

Jackson Jobe will blow some minds this spring

Ok, I saved the best for last. The most delicious piece of video posted yesterday was some training footage from Tigers top prospect Jackson Jobe. Take a look at this absolute filth down below. The Tigers haven’t had a pitching prospect like this since one Justin Brooks Verlander. Jobe is not the next Justin Verlander, but he is the most exciting pitching prospect since the future Hall of Famer came on the scene in spring training back in 2005.

The numbers on the screen behind the catcher tell the tale. It’s mid-February and Jobe’s stuff is already extremely crisp.

“Stuff isn’t everything!”

True, but Jobe walked just six total hitters in 64 innings last year despite very limited experience. The fastball command is already coming along quickly. Jobe is a monster in the making, and the only reason to keep enthusiasm under wraps is the potential for injury. I’m going to bet right now that by the time camp is over, it’s going to be hard to argue that Jobe isn’t one of their better options already.

The rest is workload management. The Tigers need to get Jobe stretched out this season, and he still has things he to learn even though he could probably make a fair go of it at the major league level right now. They’ll take it slow early in the season and try to keep his workload light so he’s in position to stay on the mound all season long. Jobe will be a real weapon for them down the stretch. Please baseball gods, let us have this one.

City Connect unis will be released soon

We’re just waiting for whatever design is about to be unleashed upon an unsuspecting fanbase. Here’s hoping they actually turn out well.

Articles You May Like

Tigers 4, Rangers 2: A-Mize-ing win
Max Anderson and Andrew Jenkins homer to power the Whitecaps
DoubleHeader: Tigers vs. Twins, 1:10 p.m.
Twins vs. Tigers Game 1 Highlights (4/13/24) | MLB Highlights
Pennsylvania Lottery Online Plays

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *