Washburn joins Tigers after crazy Friday
Jarrod Washburn actually did arrive into Cleveland to join the Tigers Friday night — late Friday night. His flight from Texas was so late, in fact, that he figured the Tigers game was over. Then he turned on the TV at the team hotel and saw the game was in the 13th inning.
“I figured when I drove by and the lights were still on, they were cleaning the stadium up,” Washburn said.
Not that it mattered, since he wouldn’t have been used anyway, but it was the fitting cap to his first trade experience.
“I’d seen it, but never been through it,” said Washburn, dealt from the Mariners to the Tigers hours before Friday’s nonwaiver trade deadline. “It was tiring. It was a crazy day. My phone never stopped ringing. Text messages were coming in. I was trying to get organized as much as I could. Now that I’m at the ballpark, it’s getting back to normalcy.”
Friday was craziness, especially with Washburn going to a team where he really doesn’t know anyone, but he was somewhat prepared for it. When he hit the road with the Mariners Wednesday for Texas, he had some extra luggage with him.
So when Tigers president/general manager Dave Dombrowski called him Friday and asked him if he needed any time to fly back to Seattle and pick up some stuff, Washburn said he was all good.
“I packed just in case,” he said. “I figured it was always easy to unpack when I got home if nothing did happen. Or I wouldn’t have to fly back to Seattle again. I packed for the rest of the season.”
How many suitcases did that involve?
“Just two,” Washburn said. “I’m easy.”
His next flight, the quick hop over Lake Erie to get from Cleveland to Detroit, will be a lot quicker than the last couple he has taken. Nonetheless, he’s entering a whole new world for him. As the Wisconsin native pointed out, he has been a West Coast player his whole career.
“I don’t know a soul here,” he said. “I’ve played against a lot of these guys.”
The way he pitched them over seven scoreless innings a couple weeks ago at Comerica Park, someone pointed out, he sure seemed to know the Tigers.
“Well,” he said. “it wasn’t long ago, last year around the same time, that it looked like they knew me pretty well.”
Actually, it was May 21, 2008, against at Comerica Park. The Tigers knocked him silly for nine runs on 12 hits over 2 1/3 innings. One out of every five pitches he threw that night went for base hits. His ERA jumped from 5.56 to 6.99, and his record dropped to 2-6 on his way to a 5-14 season.
The difference between then and now, Washburn said, comes down partly to a former Tigers coach. Rick Adair, who was on manager Buddy Bell’s staff in Detroit from 1997 to ’99, took over as Seattle’s pitching coach under new manager Don Wakamatsu last year, and made a mechanical tweak in Spring Training.
“It’s a little tiny thing, just rotating my hips a little,” Washburn said. “From there, it’s taken off. Everything’s become more sharp. I have a sinker that sinks. My fastball goes in both directions. Changeup’s a little better and my breaking pitches are a little sharper. Just that little mechanical adjustment has made everything that much better.”