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 TIGERS 2011 SPRING TRAINING NEWS

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PostSubject: TIGERS 2011 SPRING TRAINING NEWS   Tue Jan 04, 2011 10:23 pm

Detroit Tigers 2011 Non-Roster Invitees

_#_ _____Pitchers_________________ _B/T___ __Ht______Wt____ ____DOB____
----
John Bale L-L 6'4" 205 May 22, 1974
----
Enrique Gonzalez R-R 5'10" 225 Jul 14, 1982
59 Fu-Te Ni L-L 6'0" 170 Nov 14, 1982
----
Chris Oxspring L-R 6'1" 195 May 13, 1977
----
Adam Wilk L-L 6'2" 175 Dec 9, 1987
----
Brendan Wise L-R 6'2" 190 Jan 9, 1986
_#_ _____Catchers________________ _B/T___ __Ht_____Wt____ ____DOB____
----
Robert Brantly L-R 6'3" 205 Jul 14, 1989
---- Bryan Holaday R-R 6'0" 205 Nov 19, 1987
---- Patrick Leyland R-R 6'2" 198 Oct 11, 1991
---- John Murrian R-R 6'2" 215 Jun 15, 1988
---- Omir Santos R-R 6'0" 215 Apr 29, 1981
65 Max St. Pierre R-R 6'0" 175 Apr 17, 1980

_#_ _____Infielders_________________ _B/T___ _Ht______Wt____ ____DOB____
---- Argenis Diaz R-R 6'0" 190 Feb 12, 1987
---- Brandon Douglas R-R 6'0" 185 Aug 27, 1985
---- Scott Thorman L-R 6'3" 225 Jan 6, 1982

_#_ _____Outfielders_____________ _B/T___ __Ht______Wt____ ____DOB____
----
Andy Dirks L-L 6'0" 195 Jan 24, 1986
----
Avisail Garcia R-R 6'3" 190 Jun 12, 1991
----
Ben Guez R-R 5'11" 180 Jan 24, 1987


Last edited by GoGetEmTigers on Wed Feb 09, 2011 9:34 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: TIGERS 2011 SPRING TRAINING NEWS   Mon Jan 10, 2011 9:46 pm



01/10/2011 11:15 AM ET
Tigers invite 18 players to Major League Camp

DETROIT - The Detroit Tigers today announced the following 18 players have been invited to major league camp this spring in Lakeland, FL:

____Pitchers_______Catchers_______Infielders_____Outfielders_
John Bale Rob Brantly Argenis Diaz Andy Dirks
Enrique Gonzalez Bryan Holaday Brandon Douglas Avisail Garcia
Fu-Te Ni Patrick Leyland Scott Thorman Ben Guez
Chris Oxspring John Murrian

Adam Wilk Omir Santos

Brendan Wise Max St. Pierre



Additionally, the following staff members will be in uniform at major league camp this spring: Kevin Bradshaw, Ray Burris, George Carlo, Manny Crespo, Chris Cron, Joe DePastino, Leon "Bull" Durham, Toby Harrah, Jerry Martin, Jon Matlack, Phil Nevin, Dave Owen, Brian Peterson, Scott Pickens, Mike Rojas, Gene Roof and A.J. Sager. Additionally, both Willie Horton and Al Kaline will be in uniform this spring. Dustin Campbell, Matt Rankin and Chris McDonald will assist the major league training staff this spring, while Chris Walter and Steve Chase will both once again work with the Tigers strength and conditioning coordinator Javair Gillett.

The first pitchers and catchers work-out in Lakeland will be on February 14, while the first full squad work-out will be on February 19.

A complete roster detailing the non-roster invitees follows this release.


“It takes pitching, hitting and defense. Any two can win. All three make you unbeatable.”    
–Joe Garagiola
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PostSubject: Re: TIGERS 2011 SPRING TRAINING NEWS   Tue Feb 08, 2011 12:10 am

Tigers' gear prepped for annual trip
By Jason Beck / MLB.com | 02/07/11 5:48 PM EST

DETROIT -- For baseball fans, the packing of gear for the team trucks to Spring Training has become an official milepost for the baseball season. For longtime Tigers clubhouse manager Jim Schmakel, it's a task that goes on all offseason.

After 33 seasons on the job, he has a pretty good idea how to do this.

"We pack all winter long," Schmakel said as the tradition began anew Monday morning at Comerica Park. "We just gradually do it all winter long."

The main truck carrying all the equipment will leave town Tuesday morning and arrive at Joker Marchant Stadium on Wednesday. From there, they'll have just a few days to unpack and get everything in order before pitchers and catchers officially report on Sunday ahead of the first official team workout Monday morning.

It's a simple journey, really, once they get on the road. Head out of the ballpark, turn south onto Interstate 75, keep going that way until you hit Interstate 4 outside of Tampa, Fla., then head east to Exit 33 for Lakeland and Joker Marchant Stadium. But it's a trip steeped in history.

The Tigers' ties with Lakeland date back before the Interstate highway system, and the club will celebrate its 75th Spring Training in the city. When Schmakel first took over clubhouse duties in 1979, the cargo consisted mainly of one set of Spring Training jackets, one set of hats for home games, one set of hats for road games, and the home and road jerseys. All of that would go into old-style cargo trunks that might well have been on the very first trip to Lakeland.

"They were from the '30s and '40s, I think," Schmakel said.

The home and road jerseys are much the same now, a Spring Training tradition that sets the Tigers apart from the trend of third-color spring jerseys. Just about everything else, though, has changed. They have lined and unlined jackets, fleece pullovers, lighter pullovers, sweatshirts, Spring Training hats with piping, still more jackets, shirts, and other items.

Those items are ordered after the holidays and roll in during January.

"It's amazing how much stuff we order," Schmakel said. "Everything I used to have has now tripled."

Their old hat stretcher, a giant metal contraption that looks like a vice, dates back almost as long as Schmakel and has made the trip every year. So does the bone used to smooth out bats. They had one that legend had dated back to Ty Cobb, but that split in a fit of frustration and a mighty swing from a slumping hitter years ago.

The Tigers' video crew packs its gear, but it isn't nearly as much as one might think. The advancement of laptops and disk storage has reduced their load quite a bit. Now, according to baseball video operations coordinator Jeremy Kelch, the team basically packs what it would take on a regular road trip. It's just an extra-long trip -- two months or so before the Tigers return to Detroit for their home opener April 8.

Even without weight room equipment, which the Tigers haven't had to pack in recent years once the Tigertown facility was upgraded, the team sends down many times more the stuff it did when Schmakel began this job. Add in front-office equipment and luggage -- media included -- and it's enough that the idea of the Spring Training truck is now outdated. Think trucks, plural.

"Two of the biggest moving vans you'll find," Schmakel said. "And we stuff them pretty good."

But at least the trunks they once used to carry the stuff have been all but retired, replaced by moving boxes. The only two trunks left are used by the media relations department, and one of those was locked without a key for five years.

"We basically go with the boxes. They're lighter," Schmakel said. "And plus, there's no storage down there. We used to take like 30 trunks -- the big, old ones -- and we'd have trouble finding places to put them. These, you can break down. They're easier to store."

It all helps to make Spring Training feel like home, minus the Michigan winter. And these days, with temperatures in Michigan forecast to head back into single digits this week, it makes baseball season seem a little bit closer.

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


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PostSubject: Re: TIGERS 2011 SPRING TRAINING NEWS   Sat Feb 12, 2011 1:57 am

Last Updated: February 10. 2011 7:07PM
Tigers Spring Training Preview
Tigers anticipate 'fun ride' in 2011 -- if they're healthy
Lynn Henning / The Detroit News

Lakeland, Fla. — Don Kelly is not only one of the most versatile of the Tigers roster residents.

He is a surprisingly good historian.

While walking across the practice field at the Tigertown complex this week, Kelly talked about the 2011 Tigers and how they might duplicate what the 2006 team did — play its way into the World Series.

"But it's all about health," Kelly said, striding toward the bullpen area where he was preparing to throw on catcher's gear and assist in warming up a couple pitchers. "That 2006 team really didn't have any injuries."

Kelly, of course, is correct.

It's not so much a question of whether the Tigers have the talent to win the division and reach the postseason for the first time in five years.

It's whether a team built impressively upon pitching depth can keep those pitchers intact.

If so, manager Jim Leyland's squad has a splendid chance at stealing the American League Central and taking its chances in October, even against a team that will be as prohibitively favored as the Red Sox.

Remember, the 2006 Tigers made it to the World Series because of two core strengths:

* They had the best pitching in baseball (3.84 ERA).

* They also hit frequent home runs (203, third in the American League).

But mostly, they were able to keep their starters healthy — starting pitchers, as well as their everyday lineup regulars (Placido Polanco missed a few weeks because of a bad shoulder).
Important addition

One reason the Tigers are expected to contend this season is because of that new switch-hitter they signed to fill the No. 5 hole in Leyland's lineup.

Victor Martinez is a career .300 hitter who summed up his new team in one succinct sentence:

"This is gonna be a fun ride," Martinez said, building to a poignant crescendo. "We just have to keep this team healthy."

The two thoughts are inseparable because of what pro sports through the generations have so faithfully revealed.

Talent is one thing. But talent must also be able to perform.

And in baseball, where 162 games and simple percentages are bound to take a toll, it's the skilled team that enjoys the best fortunes on the physical side that almost always triumphs.
Key depth

Depth, of course, is one way in which teams compensate for injuries. The Tigers could have as much as any team, at least at key positions.

They have an abundance of players who can play multiple positions (Brandon Inge, Ryan Raburn, Kelly, Casper Wells, Ramon Santiago, etc.).

They also have strong minor-league pitching, headed by starters Andy Oliver, Charlie Furbush, and even Jacob Turner, who at age 19 is not far from Detroit.

Their bullpen, too, should be in good shape even if Joel Zumaya has a recurrence of problems that have made a hash of his past four seasons.

The Tigers are less sturdy at the infield positions and at catcher, but Will Rhymes and Scott Sizemore provide right-side depth, while Santiago and Danny Worth should keep the shelf full on the infield's left side.

But mostly because of pitching that is impressive and deep heading into camp, and which should remain trustworthy for the long haul, the Tigers have a chance to make it back to the postseason for the first time since their wild 2006 ride.

That journey ended just shy of a title.

The Tigers need not remember 2006, or last year's improbable victory by the Giants, to think they've got their own solid shot in 2011.

lynn.henning@detnews.com

From The Detroit News:
http://detnews.com/article/20110210/SPORTS0104/102100319/Tigers-anticipate-‘fun-ride’-in-2011----if-they’re-healthy#ixzz1DimU8yF5


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PostSubject: Re: TIGERS 2011 SPRING TRAINING NEWS   Sat Feb 12, 2011 2:29 am

Last Updated: February 10. 2011 7:07PM
Tigers Spring Training Preview
Five strengths of the Tigers ... and five weaknesses
Tom Gage / The Detroit News

Five strengths

1. Miguel Cabrera: As manager Jim Leyland has often said, "He's an annual MVP candidate."

There's no reason to think Cabrera won't equal or possibly improve his three-year Tigers average of 36 home runs, 119 RBIs and .314 average.

2. Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer: Verlander has the stuff to be a Cy Young contender — and so might Scherzer.

Verlander, of course, has done it for years, and Scherzer has had only four good months with the Tigers. But they could be the best 1-2 rotation combo in the American League.

3. Victor Martinez: He'll go about his business quietly as he always has, but his bat is seldom quiet.

His average the last six years is .303; he's never struck out as many as 80 times in a season let alone 100; and he has 100-plus RBIs three times in his career.

Bottom line: The Tigers won't have to worry about the No. 5 slot in the order.

4. Austin Jackson: His speed allows him to be the left-center, right-center and center fielder all in one. Plus he maintained a .300 average until Sept. 20 before it dipped to its final .293.

Jackson had an outstanding rookie season and already thinks he can improve by stealing more bases. As a rookie, he swiped 27. In his second year, he believes he can steal 40.

5. Bullpen depth: If Joel Zumaya is healthy, the Tigers will have right-handers galore — and good ones (Jose Valverde closing, Joaquin Benoit setting up, Zumaya in the seventh inning if need be and Ryan Perry filling in).

What could be wide open and interesting, however, is the competition for the 12th spot of the 12-man staff.

Five weaknesses

1. Injury issues: This isn't a weakness of depth or talent, it's a weakness of luck. Bad luck.

Will Carlos Guillen be fully recovered from his knee surgery of last year? Has Joel Zumaya regained all his strength after elbow surgery? Plus, are the Tigers deep enough to weather an injury to one of the hitters they're counting on?

2. Iffy defense: Austin Jackson will have to cover a lot of ground again because there's no speed in right and inconsistency in left.

Jhonny Peralta has good hands, but not much range at short. Second base won't be a Gold Glove position, no matter what. And, Alex Avila hasn't yet been tested by the kind of workload he'll encounter this season.

The Tigers also will have to improve their defense on the mound.

3. Unproven lefty in key bullpen role: Phil Coke has moved into the rotation, so that makes Daniel Schlereth the heir apparent to Coke's relief spot. Is he ready?

His stuff, especially his breaking ball, says he is. A 0.93 ERA in nine September appearances also is encouraging, but isn't proof positive.

4. Fading: The numbers don't lie: The Tigers have not been over .500 post All-Star Game since Jim Leyland took over as manager. Perhaps this is the year that stops, but five years is long enough for it to be a flaw instead of a trend.

After the All-Star break last year, for instance, the Tigers went 33-43.

5. In the clutch: The Tigers hit .256 with runners in scoring position last season. That's the lowest it's been in the Jim Leyland era, but also the farthest the Tigers have hit below their average (.268) during that span.

In 2007, for example, the Tigers hit .311 with RISP — 24 points higher than their .287 team average.

From The Detroit News: http://detnews.com/article/20110210/SPORTS0104/102100303/Five-strengths-of-the-Tigers-...-and-five-weaknesses#ixzz1DiuDNf7Q


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PostSubject: Re: TIGERS 2011 SPRING TRAINING NEWS   Sat Feb 12, 2011 2:32 am

Last Updated: February 10. 2011 7:07PM
Tigers Spring Training Preview
Five Tigers storylines to follow in spring training
Tom Gage / The Detroit News

What will be the five biggest story lines emerging from the Tigers during spring training?

Some years it's not easy to peer into the crystal ball.

This year it might be.

1. Starting stability

At the top, it's in good hands with Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer.

You are more familiar with what Verlander can do over an entire season than with Scherzer because Scherzer had to spend time at Toledo last season before he got it totally together.

But get it together he did — to the tune of 11-7 with a 2.46 ERA in 23 starts after rejoining the rotation May 30.

Rick Porcello needs to bounce back from a rocky second season, but there were indications in the second half he'd gotten over his sophomore hurdles.

The stability of the rotation, however, probably will rest with how Phil Coke and Brad Penny do. The Tigers can afford having one of them struggle, but not both.

2. Second base

As it stands, the Tigers will depend mostly on Will Rhymes and Scott Sizemore, but would be glad to welcome a healthy Carlos Guillen into the competition.

Guillen probably won't be able to play when exhibitions begin, but could become part of the mix by mid-March if the knee he had surgery on allows him to.

Platooning two players is less confusing than three, and that's what the Tigers will have to sort out late.

3. Behind the plate

The focus on whether Alex Avila will hit enough to warrant the playing time will be a story, perhaps a big one if Avila doesn't hit in Florida.

But you know what? It shouldn't be.

The jury shouldn't even consider a verdict on Avila until June rolls around — and even then, it could be too early for a definitive thumbs up or down.

4. Fourth outfielder

In the minds of most, this will be a competition featuring Brennan Boesch and Casper Wells.

Boesch probably has the initial edge because he hits left-handed, but he has to show he can improve his defense. In fact, as confident as the Tigers brass is that Boesch will bounce back at the plate, they are equally unsure about his defense.

Don't count out the possibility of Clete Thomas beating both out, though. As does Boesch, he hits left-handed and competently occupied more of a secondary role in his healthier days than is possibly advisable for either Wells or Boesch.

And, if he shows he can handle emergency catching duties, Donnie Kelly — who did a fine job in 74 games as an outfielder last year — won't have to worry about a spot on the roster.

5. Defense

This team will require patience at times. On Austin Jackson's flanks in the outfield will be Ryan Raburn in left and Magglio Ordonez in right most of the time.

Raburn is better than his history of bungled plays, but still makes you cringe at times. Ordonez may not cover the ground at 37 that he covered at 36. Don't forget, he's coming back from a broken ankle.

Jhonny Peralta doesn't exactly have world-class range at short, and whoever prevails at second won't make us forget the more sure-handed days of Placido Polanco.

If you are fearing the worst about the defense, even with Jackson, Brandon Inge and Miguel Cabrera handling their positions more than capably, spring training could make you feel better about it.

Or it might just keep you concerned.

From The Detroit News: http://detnews.com/article/20110210/SPORTS0104/102100301/Five-Tigers-storylines-to-follow-in-spring-training#ixzz1DivLbWYp


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PostSubject: Re: TIGERS 2011 SPRING TRAINING NEWS   Sat Feb 12, 2011 2:36 am

Last Updated: February 11. 2011 10:32PM
Lynn Henning
Tigers out to prove nice guys can, indeed, finish first

Lakeland, Fla.— Nice guys supposedly finish last.

Or do they?

The big, bad New York Yankees, fresh from another playoff postseason, feature some of the finer gentlemen in the game, with Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira occupying an especially elite level of courtesy and character.

The Minnesota Twins, who regularly make life miserable for a team from Detroit, have not exactly been pock-marked by guys from the penitentiary as they have made a habit of winning, or at least contending, in the American League Central Division.

Likewise, what you have seen during the past decade at Comerica Park is a steadily better grade of person and player occupy the Tigers roster.

There was a glimpse at how the good-guy stuff plays out during bullpen sessions this week on the practice fields adjacent to Marchant Stadium.

Don Kelly is not a catcher. He is an outfielder, or an infielder, and he can play any of those positions and play them effectively. But during this week's early workouts — pitchers and catchers don't officially report until Sunday, and position players aren't due at camp until next week — Kelly threw on catching equipment and helped out.

He caught one 60-pitch session Tuesday and that should have been enough for a man who isn't accustomed to spending a half-hour on his haunches anymore than he is versed in handling 90-mph fastballs interspersed by 85-mph breaking balls.

Moments later, Phil Coke arrived. Coke needed to throw, and with the other catchers in early camp already busy warming up a half-dozen other pitchers, Coke asked if Kelly might be good for another stint.

Kelly responded with a kind of half-gulp and said, "Sure."

And then he took another 60 pitches from a left-hander who has one of the best three-pitch repertoires on the Tigers staff.

What Kelly did Tuesday was not going to win a Congressional Medal of Honor. As sacrifices go, especially during these times when workers and families are so stressed, a second bullpen shift was not on any grand scale of selflessness.

But in context, it was as important as it was difficult for Kelly to put forth such serious effort.

It also was appreciated by those who understand what it takes to play baseball on the big-league level.

Late this morning, a few minutes after Kelly had wrapped up another bullpen workout with young left-hander Daniel Schlereth, Kelly stood at the side of the throwing pen, regaining his legs.

Schlereth came over to him, smiling and offering his right hand in a caring, thumb-latching handshake.

"How was it, kid?" Schlereth asked Kelly, not so much asking for a grade on his pitches, but on how Kelly had fared at a job that was both taxing and far from his comfort level.

"Good," Kelly answered. "You were messing me up with those first couple of curveballs."

The point is this: The Tigers have been careful about their background checks as they have assembled their teams under Dave Dombrowski, the team's front-office boss. You don't necessarily need to be a Boy Scout to play for Dombrowski, or for manager Jim Leyland, but the word "character" either is part of a player's profile or not.

And character — civility, self-discipline, manners, collegiality — is far more evident on the Tigers roster in 2011 than it would have been in 2001, at a time when skills and personal qualities were, on occasion, more than challenged.

It is important, as well, to remember that character does not equate to softness. Leo Durocher's famous line about "nice guys" and last place is a different issue. Nice guys, as in wimps, are probably not going to be overly competitive.

But nice guys in the mold of well-rounded men who are good teammates is what a team definitely wants. Nice guys who can play with intensity on the field and know how to behave away from it is the balance a club needs to strike in building its rosters.

The Tigers have made a noticeable attempt at doing just that and have achieved in ways that have benefited them in the short, and long, terms.

Magglio Ordonez and Carlos Guillen, to name two elder statesmen, are as fine of men as you will meet in professional sports. Victor Martinez, newly signed as the Tigers' designated hitter, is an impeccable gent who will charm all of Detroit as fans become acquainted with him.

Miguel Cabrera had a bad situation with alcohol at the end of 2009. But he instantly got treatment and last year could not have been more inspiring, on or off, the field.

Austin Jackson, Brandon Inge, Jhonny Peralta, Scott Sizemore, Will Rhymes, Alex Avila, Ryan Raburn — and a slew of pitchers — are the brand of men you want wearing your uniform.

It is no coincidence there have been few problems, or incidents, in recent years. These players are not only skilled, they know something about life and the world around them.

And that's not a bad combination to employ when a baseball club is obliged to do more than win a playoff ticket. It's also representing a community.

lynn.henning@detnews.com

From The Detroit News: http://detnews.com/article/20110211/OPINION03/102110422/Tigers-out-to-prove-nice-guys-can--indeed--finish-first#ixzz1DiwkVcEl


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PostSubject: Re: TIGERS 2011 SPRING TRAINING NEWS   Mon Feb 14, 2011 12:57 am

Tigers manager Jim Leyland: 'We've got a lot of work to do'
Skipper talks about second-base competition, emphasis on baserunning
5:46 PM, Feb. 13, 2011

By JOHN LOWE
Detroit Free Press Sports Writer

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Of all the things manager Jim Leyland said Saturday about the unsettled state of second base, what he said about Scott Sizemore jumped out the most.

"He looked like a totally different guy," Leyland said, recalling his impression of Sizemore at last month's Tigers caravan. "He had some color to him. It looked like he felt good. He was talking to people. He was a totally different human being.

"I watched just the opposite the first couple of years I've seen him here. He was as pale as a milk bottle. He wasn't moving too good. I knew he was hurting. I kept telling everybody, 'He's not right. He's not feeling good about himself.' "

Sizemore arrived for spring training last year as a rookie who had been given the second base job vacated by Placido Polanco. But his season might have been doomed from the start by the broken left ankle he'd suffered the previous October in the Arizona Fall League. By mid-May Sizemore had fallen to the minors. He returned briefly in July, then again during the September roster expansion.

In by far the Tigers' most interesting job competition of spring training, Sizemore will go against Will Rhymes and perhaps Danny Worth for the second-base job on Opening Day. All three played in the majors for the first time last season: Sizemore (now 26), Rhymes (who will turn 28 on April 1) and Worth (25).

Carlos Guillen retains the title of Tigers second baseman, but club officials don't expect he'll be ready for Opening Day. Guillen had knee surgery in September.

"We're going to have to ease Guillen along," Leyland said. "I'm going to stay totally out of that."

Then Leyland rehearsed the instructions he'll give Guillen for spring training.

" 'Carlos, you're with the medical team. When you get yourself ready, we're going to put you in there and see what you look like.'

"If he can come back and be an offensive second baseman and be another switch-hitter behind (Victor) Martinez, that's pretty good. What are we going to get (from Guillen)? I don't know."

In picking among Sizemore, Rhymes and Worth, how important will defense be in that decision?

"It will definitely be important," Leyland said. "To what degree, I can't tell you. It's part of a double-play combination, so that's pretty important.

"We also have (Ramon) Santiago, so I know he can play there.

"Sizemore and Rhymes have to improve their defense. That's what spring training is for. I know Worth can play (second) -- defense is his strong suit wherever you put him."

With Sizemore we think a lot about his range, and Rhymes we saw have trouble turning the double play. Are those the biggest areas for those two to improve on?

"I'm anxious to see how Sizemore is moving this spring. His throw gets a little floppy sometimes, but I don't care about that if it's accurate.

"Rhymes is going to have to cheat a little bit to turn that double play with the velocity he wants on that long throw to first. 'Cheat' means he might have to play a little closer to the bag."

Of the second-base candidates collectively, Leyland said:

"Going into spring training, you can make a case for all of them, but you can't make a dominant case for any of them. Rhymes can bunt and gives us speed and energy. If Sizemore comes in here fresh and hits like the reports say that he might at some point, then it's going to be fun.

"I don't look at it as a problem. I look at it as a nice situation."

A focus on baserunning

As the most successful baserunner in Tigers history stared at him, Leyland talked Saturday about how the Tigers need to improve their baserunning.

For the last few decades, an enormous headshot photo of Ty Cobb has hung in the manager's office at Lakeland. As the manager sits at his desk, he's looking right at an aging Cobb in sunglasses and a Tigers hat.

Cobb, who stole more than 850 bases for the Tigers, probably wouldn't have liked that only two players on Leyland's team stole more than seven bases last season. Or that only four stole more than three bases. (Austin Jackson led with 27 steals, followed by Johnny Damon with 11, Brennan Boesch with seven and Brandon Inge with four.)

Successful baserunning isn't just base stealing.

Leyland said that, in this training camp, a camera will be used to show players their "secondary leads" -- i.e., the leads they take while the pitch is on the way to the play. If a runner takes a big enough secondary lead, he might be able to take an extra base on a hit, such as going from first to third on a single to center. That's true even if he's one of those many Tigers who steals only a few bases per year.

Leyland said: "It's very natural that when guys can't run, they don't get good leads and they don't ever try to take an extra base because they don't run good and they know it. So they've already lost half the battle.

"I'm not saying we're going to steal a lot of bases and go first-to-third every time. But if it's just a few times a year that wins you five or six games, that's huge. We're going to emphasize that: 'I don't expect you to steal 20 bases, but I do expect that if the centerfielder has to go to his left for the ball, round second base hard and go to third.'

"We've got to maximize our baserunning abilities, because we're not a fast team. That's one thing we're really going to concentrate on this spring."

The odds and ends

Leyland discussed several other topics in his session with reporters Saturday in his office:

• Top pitching prospects Jacob Turner and Andy Oliver: "We'll watch their progress. They aren't slated to make the team coming out of spring training. It doesn't mean they could not. (Turner and Oliver have one year of pro experience apiece, and the rotation is full.)

"It's huge for us to get those guys advanced to where if they don't make the team, we've got them closer. And in case we have issues -- like you always do, where you need a pitcher -- then you're calling up somebody you legitimately feel real comfortable about. That's our depth."

(For example, Every big-league team used at least seven starting pitchers last season, and more than half used at least 10.)

• The most important thing he needs to see in spring training from Phil Coke, as the left-hander converts back to starting after spending the first two full seasons of his big-league career as a reliever:

"I just want him to (have) the same stuff he brings out of the bullpen but a different mentality. When he comes out of the bullpen, he's snorting and grunting and groaning. He's wired.

"You can't be wired to that extent as a starter. I spoke to him about that at the caravan: 'We've got to get you calmed down a little bit, because you can't be exerting all that energy in one inning when you're going to be a starter.' He knew exactly what I was talking about."

• Centerfielder Jackson: "If he duplicates what he did last year, I'd be the happiest guy in town. He's really a good player."

• Jackson's strikeouts (he led the league with 170 last season):

"That will get better as he goes along. The more you emphasize that, sometimes the worse it makes it."

• Where Ryan Raburn will play as he becomes something of a regular in the outfield: "I'm not going to play Raburn in rightfield. I'm going to play him in leftfield only. He's got a great throwing arm for leftfield -- an accurate throwing arm.

"A lot of people put a bad arm in leftfield and a great arm in rightfield. I believe sometimes it's just the opposite. There are so many more right-handed hitters and balls going to leftfield, and if you get a good thrower in leftfield, that's really important."

• What Boesch must do in spring training to make the team: "I don't want to put any pressure on him saying what he has to do. I think it's right in front of everybody without me saying anything. He's got to get back in a groove offensively, and he's going to have to improve some defensively in the outfield. I think he will.

"We've got to get him more comfortable in the outfield. He gets a little stiff with his hands. He has to learn to use one hand more (to make catches). Sometimes he doesn't trust his hands. We've got a lot of time to work with that."

• Having flown to Florida on Saturday with his son, Pat, 19, a Tigers minor league catcher who is in his first spring training as a pro player: "It's exciting. It's kind of neat."

• The team will institute a drill this spring to help pitchers move faster to field choppers in front of the mound: "We're going to have (minor leaguers) who can take off (from the plate) and make sure the pitchers are aware they have to get to the ball and get rid of it."

• The team: "We've got a lot of work to do, but we've got a lot of nice pieces to do it with. I really like our team."

Contact JOHN LOWE: 313-223-4053 or jlowe@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @freeptigers.


“It takes pitching, hitting and defense. Any two can win. All three make you unbeatable.”    
–Joe Garagiola
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