Pitchers 1, hitters 0
No surprise, but pitchers are ahead of hitters at this point in Tigers Spring Training — in many instances, very much so.
In Justin Verlander’s case, his health in these things depends on being ahead of hitters.
pitchers in these live BP sessions are throwing from behind the cage,
protecting them from the risk of a one-hopper back up the middle.
Verlander does not. He isn’t comfortable throwing from behind a screen,
and he wants to simulate game conditions as much as he can when he
takes the mound for these sessions. He says he was knicked by a
comebacker a couple years ago, but it didn’t change his view.
“It wasn’t the first time I’ve been hit by a ball,” Verlander said, “and it won’t be the last time.”
way Verlander was throwing Thursday, nobody seemed to be making
contact. He seems to have taken the adjustments pitching coach Rick
Knapp and worked them into his mechanics. The result is some very good
stuff, enough so that Miguel Cabrera and others were marveling.
“Verlander was outstanding,” manager Jim Leyland said. “I think he’s really trying hard.”
wasn’t the only one. Ramon Santiago was teasing lefty Kyle Bloom about
a curveball that he dropped on the plate and sent Santiago swinging at
air. Eddie Bonine said he was struggling to locate some of his pitches,
so he ended up throwing some knuckleballs, which wasn’t too fun for
Magglio Ordonez and his hitting group.
Those sessions will continue for the next two days. Tigers hitters get to face Joel Zumaya on Friday and Ryan Perry on Saturday.
Other odds and ends …
Tigers were scheduled to do some fundamental work on rundowns Thursday,
but with rain coming, they decided to scratch that and move up the
pitching sessions so that they could get it in. They’ll do rundowns
sometime in the coming days.
- With Todd Jones back home enjoying
retirement, Bobby Seay seems to be becoming a bit of a veteran voice in
the Tigers bullpen. He talked this afternoon about how he felt the
bullpen might have let up a bit down the stretch, including himself,
and needs to carry it through.
- Leyland said he thinks the
key to Seay will be to find more consistency on his breaking ball and
hit the outside corner with it against left-handed hitters. Seay said
he’s also working on an offspeed pitch that he might mix in from time
to time as an added option. But I think the general consensus is that
even if LH hitters might sit on the slider and try to take it to the
opposite field, Seay can get them out if he executes the pitch.
said he still believes Joel Zumaya can fill the closer’s role down the
line. Just not right now, not with how little he has pitched over the
last two years.
- Interesting comment from Leyland on
Fernando Rodney: “His fastball might not be his best pitch, but it’s
his most important pitch.” He doesn’t mean throwing it more often; he
means commanding it and maintaining velocity. For what it’s worth,
fastballs made up a bigger percentage of Rodney’s total pitches last
year (62.4%) than any other season in his career, according to
fangraphs.com. His average velocity with it (95.3 mph) was also the
highest of his career.
- Leyland will be away from the club on
Monday to return home to Perrysburg and attend services for his nephew,
B.J. Miller, who passed away after a battle with cancer.