Spring Postcard: Can power arms help Tigers forget collapse?
One thing you can say about the Tigers pitching staff -- they're going to throw hard. That, of course, starts with ace
The Tigers -- after a few years of filling holes with veteran players like P
Well, you have to start with those power arms, though coming into the season only Verlander has translated dominant stuff into dominant performance. Porcello had an excellent rookie season as a 20-year-old, going 14-9 with a 3.96 ERA, and scouts were talking excitedly about him during spring training. Teams coming in to play the Tigers will have to come in with extra bats.
Maybe it's wishful thinking, but people in Detroit cannot stop talking about how much rookie Austin Jackson performs like a young Curtis Granderson. He has been hitting balls into gaps all spring, working for some walks and showing athleticism in center field. Obviously, it's just spring training, but the Tigers seem to think they might have gotten even more than they hoped for when they made the Granderson trade.
It's weird to see Johnny Damon in a Tigers uniform ... but how often have we said that in his career. It was weird to see him in a Red Sox uniform, then weird to see him in a Yankees uniform and so on. Damon is coming off what was probably his best offensive year -- he had a career high .489 slugging percentage to go with his usual allotment of numbers and was a perfect 12-for-12 in stolen bases. Damon is closing in on some pretty heady career numbers -- he's only 575 hits shy of 3,000, 49 doubles short of 500, 17 runs short of 1,500 and so on. His consistency and durability have allowed him to put a collection of numbers rare in baseball history. But he is 36 now and there's no guessing how much longer his body can hold up. Damon believes he has a few good years left in him, and all spring he has looked very much like himself.
At least, that's what the Tigers are hoping. Ordonez, like Damon, is 36 and for much of the 2009 season he looked to be absolutely done as an everyday player. On August 1st, he was hitting .258 and slugging .354 -- and there seemed no way the Tigers would bring him and his $18 million deal back (there was a $3 million team buyout). But the last 49 games, Ordonez hit .405/.464/.564 and he ended the season on a 13-game hitting streak during which he hit .490. The Tigers saw enough bring him back. Now they have to hope that it wasn't just a late-season mirage.