Monthly Archives: February 2012

Spring training update 3- in which I take an unreasonable number of pictures

Saturday the 25th saw the whole team in camp and my husband and I with a morning of nothing to do.  Since the poor boy had yet to see an early workout and it was my birthday weekend, we headed out that morning for another round of fun!

In what may have been a calculated effort to show certain members of the media that he was not, in fact, a poor sport and a whiner who probably didn’t want to start badly enough because he showed up in camp merely on time (This was A Thing, sadly enough), Inge came out of the clubhouse quite a bit before the other players started appearing.  He immediately took to the front practice field with Belliard and started getting pointers on playing second base.  I had a good view since I was standing right along the fence.

working hard

Brandon Inge attempts to learn a new position.

Everyone else arrived in waves after and started rotating through drills. Lest we all forget, here is a reminder that Doug Fister is a beanpole:

Fister is tall

At this point, husband was all "Holy, crap, is he tall!" and I was like "See?!". Doug Fister is a tall, lanky man.

More tall Fister

Just for fun, here's Doug Fister between Avila and Fielder. Heeeee!

In case you haven’t heard, Kenny Rogers is in camp helping the pitchers to field the ball and hold runners!  This is excellent news, because he was really the only pitcher in ’06 who did not suck out loud at this.  Much to my dismay, I did not bring my Rogers shirt.

Kenny Rogers

Kenny Rogers signs autographs for practically everyone.

My biggest observation during warm-ups, other than “Hey, this reminds me a lot of track and field training”, was that the groups with rookies and prospects worked really, really hard and don’t talk much.  The veterans are very much the opposite.  I don’t mean to say that they’re not working putting effort into it, but there’s definitely a feeling that they don’t have nearly as much to prove.  Also, they’re busy catching up with their friends, which is adorable.  In a manly, athletic way.

Cabrera, Benoit, and Valverde

Cabrera laughs at something with Valverde in the background and Benoit in the middle of it. Cabrera and Valverde were giving a lot of guys trouble when they screwed something up, actually.

Raburn smiles

Much to my delight, I somehow got Ryan Raburn looking right at us and grinning. I love it. And, hey, look who was working out! Al Al!

Fielder no shoes

Why, no, I don't know why Fielder had his shoes off and inserts out, and neither did Fister. It was pretty funny, though.

When everyone split up, the infielders broke up pretty evenly between roster and non-roster guys.  I love watching new talent, but I was far more interested in watching the re-shuffled infield and had a great spot at the fence.  Kelly and Cabrera took third, Raburn/Santiago/Inge went to second, Danny Worth and Peralta took SS, and Prince started at first all by himself.  He was joined later by Kelly and Santiago shifted over to short for a bit.

Fielder at first

My first look at Prince working out at first. He's got a great arm, by the way.

Inge at second

Inge tosses a ball to first, or toward me, while Raburn watches.

Infielders

Inge would probably sit there all spring if it meant he could have the second base spot full time.

 

Inge and Leyland

Inge walks with Leyland and chats.

At this point, the pitchers joined in the fun for a little while:

JV on the mound

Oh, hello, Justin Verlander!

Don Kelly at first

Don Kelly, playoff favorite, takes a ground ball at first.

 

Infielders again

Prince, Inge, and Raburn discuss infielderish things.

 

 

Heartbreak

Oh, Joel, no.  No, no, no, no.  😦

That sound you hear?  That’s my heart breaking into a million tiny pieces.  Just because it isn’t particularly shocking doesn’t make it any less horrible.

Spring training update- pitcher and catcher report continued

When I left off, the pitchers and catchers were stretching and warming up.  There was a LOT going on from here on, so I’m going to mix pictures and bulleted thoughts for the majority of this entry. 

– Throughout their stretching routines, someone kept singing the chorus of “La Bamba” at the top of their lungs.  Having been at training some last season, I knew immediately that this person was Valverde.  There was also random whooping and shouting.  If you’ve ever wondered if Valverde’s schtick on the mound is an act, believe me, it is not.  More on that later.

– Pitchers and catchers broke out for workouts, with the catchers heading over to one field and the pitchers dividing up between the remaining four fields.  I followed the catchers, where Avila and Laird were playing catch together.  Avila looks excellent- smiling, relaxed, healthy, and moving well.  That was a massive relief to see.  He and Laird seemed happy to be working together, which was also great.

Laird

He's baaaaaaaack!

Alex smiling

I much prefer smiling Alex to the grimacing Alex from the end of last year.

– It seemed like the pitchers were broken into four groups, each with one of the four known starters and a various selection of prospects and relievers.  Got a look at Justin’s group first, which included Oliver, Balester, Hoffman, and a few I couldn’t identify.  The were working fielding drills, which with our history, was a very good thing to see.

Justin running

Justin running to first base.

– Saw Fister’s group next.  Fister is tall.  So, so tall.  I mean, we know that, but you don’t really get a sense of his legs until you see him person.  His group included Schlereth, Pauley (remember him?), Below, Villareal, Owen, and friends.  At one point, Schlereth was standing next to Fister and I almost died laughing.  I mean, look at this:

Pitching huddle

Height difference hillarity.

– Porcello’s group was next, including Coke, Valverde, Ortega, and a few others.  Now, I have no idea how these groups were formed, but putting Coke and Valverde in the same group proved the highlight of the day for the fans.  Poor Porcello (heh) was all Serious Face and working hard while Coke and The Potato worked hard . . . while being completely ridiculous.  Coke ran for a ball and was followed by the shout of “Get ’em, Cokey!”.  Valverde stood up against the fence, struck a pose, and yelled “Cheese!” to the fans.  A particularly amusing “hustle” from Valverde was awarded with the first round of applause I had heard on the back fields.  Coke completely biffed a ball coming to first and we all “ooooooooh”-ed dramatically.  He then turned to the coach, stared in disbelief, and exclaimed, “Come on, do I look like a hitter?!”.  Papa Grande made it to first and a fan yelled “Safe!”.  Without missing a beat, he retorted with “OUT!”.  The fans were into it and the whole experience was just beautiful.  It was why I love spring training in a 15 minute burst of bullpen awesomeness.

Porcello and Valverde

I don't know what was happening, but apparently both Rick and Jose found it funny.

Papa Grande

The Big Potato hustles! Go Potato, go!

Coke

Coke awesomely blames a coach for his error.

– After that crew, it was Scherzer with Benoit, Wilk, Downs, Turner, and a few others.  Scherzer is a clown, pretty much exactly as you would expect. It wasn’t that he wasn’t working hard so much as he seems to have a pretty laid back attitude about everything.  (Completely the opposite of Porcello, who seems pretty tense regardless of his years pitching at this level so far.  I have some thoughts on that for later.)  Benoit missed two grounders to the mound in a row and kicked the second one in frustration, but otherwise, he seemed loose and happy.

Pitchers

Wilk throws while the others look on.

Scherzer

Scherzer being himself.

– Have I mentioned Fister is tall?  I mean, come on:

Fister running

Holy legs, Batman!

– At this point, they were done and the hitters (those who were there) came out to practice.  Unfortunately, they took the back two fields where there really isn’t access for fans.  Through Twitter, I knew that Brennan, Prince, and Miggy were tearing it up back there, but I have no photographic evidence of this.  Instead, here are a few random photos and thoughts to finish.

Phil Coke

Phil Coke, man of the people. He signed for EVERYONE and had conversations with many.

Batters

Jackson and Boesch!

Prince

Prince, Kelly, and friends.

 

 

Spring training update- it begins (part 1)

For most of the year, my husband and I pretty much hate living in Florida.  This time of year is a massive exception.  All the heat, humidity, traffic, tourists, terrible drivers are almost worth it when you live 30 minutes from Joker Marchant Stadium in late February.  My new President’s Day tradition is using my day off from work to wander around the practice fields and try not to implode from the awesomeness of it all.  My first visit to Tiger Town is when my excitement for the season truly kicks in to high gear.  This year, my day off happened to coincide with the first official pitcher and catcher work-out, Justin Verlander’s birthday, and the arrival of Prince.  I’m sure you can imagine the circus that ensued.  Small-scale, mind you, but still insane compared to the day I visited last year.

I haven’t figured out a good way to organize to work this into a neat narrative, and frankly, I don’t have the patience.  Instead, I’m going to use the best of my pictures, notes from my cell phone, and the random texts I sent to my poor, working husband to give you some highlights from the morning.

I’ve noticed that there are three groups of people who show up to watch the early workouts- snowbird/transplanted/vacationing fans who come to watch the players and see how they look (that’s me), local baseball fans who have some free time and want to see what’s up, and autograph hounds.  The autograph hounds are always the first to arrive so they can get a prime spot.  By the time I showed up at around 8:30am, this was the scene:

fan mob

Anticipation!

This was already more people than I saw last year and more kept coming.  There was some muttering from later arrivals that they wish they’d gotten there earlier to get a good spot, that they had no idea it was going to be this crowded.  I was wish I had left later or stopped to get breakfast and coffee since the rumor was that practice wasn’t starting until at least 9:30am.  It wasn’t all bad, though.  One of the things I love about Spring Training is talking to other fans, finding out where they’re from, why they’re there, throwing inside jokes back and forth, listening to rumors, etc.

pitcher parade

The pitchers emerge!

Notice that Coke is the only one letting his uniform fly?  Yep.  Pretty much everyone walked through (to applause) and didn’t stop to sign.  I think Porcello may have signed a few before moving on.  Scherzer and a few stragglers came out a few minutes after.  After another few minutes, the press started gathering and we knew that The Man was emerging.

JV emerges

This is what happens after you win an MVP and Cy Young.

Verlander actually signed for a good amount of time, which led to a woman loudly complaining about how this was all a big show because the cameras were running, since “last time” there were only four of them standing around and he didn’t bother.  She made the same comment repeatedly while Justin signed, which got old, especially since I’ve seen him sign autographs multiple times and had just listened to a man tell a story about how he’d taken pictures with fans at a movie theater once when he was out on a rain-out day.  Anyway.  After he finished and started to jog off, a few of us yelled “happy birthday, Justin!”, which got him to turn and wave with a big smile.  He was followed by the coaches and office staff…

boss men

Baseball is serious business.

…and, much to our amusement, Laird and Avila brought up the rear.

the catchers

Welcome back, G-Money!

They were running and Laird was having issues with the bag on his shoulder (aw.), but they both looked happy and were chatting away.  They stuck together pretty closely throughout the day and I’m hoping that they’re falling back into a nice routine together.  Alex looked healthy and energetic, which was a huge relief after the end of last season.

Tiger kids

There was also some ridiculously cute baseball going on.

 

charge

Ladies and gentlemen, The Pitchers.

After a seemingly endless meeting at the back of the field, everyone took a warm-up lap (running right by us in the process) with Justin, Benoit, and Coke leading the charge.  Do they look excited?  I think they look excited.

Next time: Pitching workouts, fielding drills, Papa Grande attempts to “hustle”, and Coke blames his error on the coach.

File under “Things That are Awesome”

You’ve all probably seen this all ready, but apparently, Justin Verlander is a ninja.  Also, he can get inside Kershaw’s brain.  You know.  Because he’s a Ninja.

This inspired a spectacular cartoon from Roar of the Tigers that you simply must see.

Is it baseball time yet??

Andy Dirks- big damn hero!

I’ve been sort of half following the story of Andy Dirks and the Caribbean Series because, while I don’t know a whole lot about Andy (not his fault, he just kind of gets lost in the endless parade of young outfielders and hasn’t done much to draw attention), I like him and there’s pretty much nothing going on in baseball this week.  It seems like he’s been playing well and the video of his walk-off hit from the Aguilas game is hilarious.  This headline today on MLB.com, though, amused the crap out of me and I had to share it.

“Andy Dirks’ standout play makes him a star in D.R.”

Our Andy Dirks!  A star!  No, seriously, check this out:

‘Through it all, you can still make out one of the most popular chants at this year’s Caribbean Series, and that’s music to Andy Dirks’ ears every time he hears it.

“An-dee, An-dee, An-dee.”

The Detroit outfielder is a rock star in the Dominican Republic. He can’t walk out of the hotel room where he is living this week without fans asking to take a photo with him or get his autograph.’

What exactly did Andy do to achieve celebrity status in the Dominican?  Well, the numbers weren’t spectacular, but they absolutely give hope to the idea of depth in the outfield (though we’re getting Clete back, as well, but my adoration for him is for another post).  First 4 games of the Series- .250 AVG, 3 RBIs and 3 runs scored.  .262 AVG over 16 games with the Toros.  That’s pretty consistent with his numbers from the end of the season (small sample sizes, all).

Apparently, though, he was also all about the drama.  Not only was there the above video in which he finished a come-from-behind victory with the game winning hit, but he also had the game-winning RBI against Venezuela in extra innings.  Lest we think that hitting is his only talent, he then made what was called a “spectacular” catch against Mexico and saved a run.

How does Andy feel about all this?

“Baseball has been really good to me so far,” Dirks said. “It’s been good to get a chance to play, let alone get recognized for your play and have a great group of guys to play with. It’s been a pretty surreal experience.” (same MLB.com article as above)

There you go.  Andy Dirks: Dominican Hero!  Well done, Andy, and we’ll see you at Spring Training!

 


I knew there was something fishy going on

Many have probably suspected that Just Verlander made some sort of a dark deal with the sports gods this year.  Last night, we got confirmation of this when he correctly picked not only the winner of the Super Bowl, but the EXACT final score.

Even more bizarrely, he won something for this achievement as part of the Scripps Howard Celebrity Super Bowl Poll, “which is an actual trophy”.  I love that MLB.com felt our collective skepticism and felt the need to point this out.  Excellent use of sarcasm, there.  Even more hilarious is the fact that everyone in sports appears to be all over this story.  We obviously need the season to start, like, yesterday.

I’m sure Justin will put this on the shelf right next to his Cy Young and MVB awards.