Almost time for full squad
Today was the last day for workouts with only pitchers and catchers, and Jim Leyland was looking forward to getting the full squad into camp. He said again that Wednesday will be a "big day," because he wants to set a tone for make sure his players approach this camp right.
"This will be the toughest spring training since I’ve been here, I think," he said.
He won’t have a teamwide speech — half the players can’t hear you when you do that — but he’ll meet with the infielders and outfielders in separate groups to make the same point he did to the pitchers and catchers: For all the expectations of this club, they haven’t done squat yet.
That’ll set up the workouts to come. Expect a lot of focus in the coming days on fundmentals, including relays, cutoff plays and defensive alignments. Yes, every team goes over those things in every camp, but there’s a reason every team does. Theoretically, the teams that pay more attention and execute it better now are the teams that execute it better when the regular season comes along and they have to do these on the fly.
Placido Polanco recounted the story of how Magglio Ordonez paid him a surprise visit this winter. Apparently Magglio and his family were debating where to go for a quick getaway on the spur of the moment, and the Dominican Republic came up. He flies over to the Dominican and calls up Polanco, who had no advance warning. Polanco’s father picks up Magglio and his family and drives them a couple hours away to see Polanco around Santo Domingo.
Gary Sheffield is giving advice to Curtis Granderson on his two-strike approach and working pitchers. Granderson cut down on his strikeouts last year but would like to even out his strikeout-to-walk ratio a little more, and there probably isn’t a better guy on the team in that regard than Sheff. Fittingly, Sheffield was pointing out last week how, as good of a lineup as they have, they also have a somewhat young lineup, and that they have to learn how to work pitchers. That, he said, was what made those Yankee lineups of a few years ago so tough.
For those of you on the why-don’t-the-Tigers-get-more-respect crusade, today was the day that the national media started to check in at Tigertown. In a way, it figures. If you’re going to write about Detroit’s lineup, it makes sense to wait until position players report. Plus, it’s maybe a half-hour drive from Legends Field, where many folks were for Andy Pettitte’s press conference yesterday.