February 16th, 2007

Pitchers fielding practice

The Tigers today completed what might rank among the most watched sessions of PFP in modern big-league history — certainly most watched by the media. Manager Jim Leyland said he indeed considered not having it on the first day as he had threatened, but changed his mind when pitching coach Chuck Hernandez suggested that delaying it would add to the attention. This way, they got it out of the way early, dispensed with some of the attention, and they can go about their business with less of a crowd starting Saturday. Plus it helps them not think about last year from here on out, as Leyland wants them to do.

The players for the most part weren’t wrapped up in the attention, though they were wrapped up in long sleeves with temperatures in the upper 40s. They were taking it with good humor, including Joel Zumaya, who didn’t have to worry about whether to throw to first or third.

So how was PFP? It was pretty routine. Guys line up at each base and a coach hits ground balls or hoppers to them. Some guys fielded them cleanly. Some guys saw a ground ball or two go through their legs. Some guys (Kenny Rogers) make a diving lunge to their left to catch a line drive. But it wasn’t an ordeal. As Leyland said afterwards, his players had no trouble fielding ground balls during the World Series; it was throwing the ball that was the problem.