First day roundup

The first day went about as any other first day goes. After some early morning meetings, Tigers pitchers took to the back fields, did about a half-hour of stretches and agility work, then hit the infields for fundmental work like pickoff throws, fielding ground balls and covering first base. Pretty routine stuff. Jim Leyland and the coaching staff do their best to try to make it fun, but as Leyland pointed out, pitchers have been throwing to first base for the past 100 years.

From there, half the pitchers went to the back mounds for the first round of formal bullpen sessions. The early sessions are always tricky, Leyland points out, because some pitchers are further ahead in their throwing than others depending on their offseason programs. The coaches told the pitchers to throw as the level where they’re comfortable right now, rather than overdo it and risk injury. Dontrelle Willis was one of those throwing and looked relatively well, for what it’s worth. His delivery might be a little different, but not that much. One thing new pitching coach Rick Knapp says he has emphasized to Willis early on is to be himself.

It’s interesting to watch how different pitchers with different mechanics generate their velocities. Non-roster reliever Scott Williamson is not a big guy, and he has a herky-jerky motion. But watching him from 30 feet away, it works for him as far as throwing hard — not the 99 mph fastballs he used to throw, but still seemingly hard.

Once guys are done throwing, they do some cool-down runs and head back to the clubhouse. Those who didn’t throw today will throw Sunday, unless they’re on a different program.

That’s the schedule for pitchers. For the next several days, it’s time to go golf or fish and hang out with the family, eat dinner, go to bed, get up, go to the clubhouse early in the morning, and repeat.

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