Tigers reactions to David Price trade
This was Torii Hunter’s reaction Thursday morning to the Jon Lester trade:
“Oh my God, that’s impressive. That’s all I could say. You lose Cespedes, a guy with power, but you gain another pitcher. And we all know in the playoffs, when you get there, pitching and defense win games. You have to give a little bit to get a little bit, so I think it’s a pretty good trade.”
He was talking with Austin Jackson about the deal and what Cespedes could do at Fenway Park. He had no idea at the time that he’d be looking at his own club doing the same thing by the time he left the ballpark Thursday evening.
“I mean, we’re neighbors in the offseason. We hang out. We worked out this offseason,” Hunter said. “Just talking to him all the time, on the phone or a text or being together going to dinner, whatever it may be, we’re always together. It’s tough to see him go. But you know, that’s why I try to pour into him so much at a time, because you never know what happens in this game. I told him that several times and this happened. He kind of gets it. I’ve been preaching that for the last couple years.”
That was the personal side. He had to divide that from the professional side.
“As players, as human beings, you’re like, ‘Look, Lester went to Oakland. OK, I want to know if we’re going to do something.’ And it actually happened,” Hunter said. “But that’s something where we might not even play Oakland. We have to get to the postseason first. We’ve got these next two months and I think David Price is going to help us out. Once we get through these next two months, I think getting to the postseason, David Price is a bulldog. That was a great pickup for us. Can’t worry about what Oakland’s doing. We only have to worry about what the Tigers are doing.”
A lot of Tigers were dealing with those dueling emotions. Jackson wasn’t a prospect, and he wasn’t really a young talent. He’s 27, but he was one of the core Tigers in their run of three straight division titles. Just five Tigers had been with the Major League squad longer than Jackson (Max Scherzer and Phil Coke were tied, having come up at the same time in the same deal). In many ways, he grew up with a lot of these players together.
“It’s hard,” Scherzer said. “I mean, you’re super sad because you have to see Smyly and Austin go, and they’ve been a huge part of what we’ve done here. But at the same time, I know what Price brings to the table, watching him pitch. He’s an unbelievable pitcher. It stings today, but tomorrow when we come to the park, I’m sure we’re all going to have huge smiles on our faces. …
“It’s tough. It’s real tough. Today stinks. Today we lose Smyly and Austin, and I know we’re getting David Price and he’s a great pitcher and everything. But in this moment, it stinks. You have to remember, we’re family in here. Austin and Smyly are part of this family, and we’re losing two of our guys. I get that the guy who we’re getting is very talented as well, but right now it stinks.”
Justin Verlander, the longest-tenured current Tiger, reacted much the same.
“You have mixed emotions,” Verlander said. “I’m paying attention to the game a little bit, trying to check and see what’s going on with the trade deadline. I’m just as intrigued as everybody else. And Mr. Dombrowski is pretty tight-lipped. He doesn’t let anything leak. But you see him running out there and you think, ‘Oh, man, something happened.’ Well, there goes my brother running off the field. I know he’s going somewhere else. You definitely have mixed emotions.
“I wish those guys the best of luck. They’re two extremely talented players and extremely good guys. They’ll be great.”
Verlander has also had the chance to be teammates with Price on the AL All-Star team.
“You’re talking about a caliber of pitcher who has one a Cy Young two years ago, and I think that answers how he can fit in and help this team,” Verlander said. “He’s one of the best pitchers in baseball. He’s left-handed. He’s a power pitcher, which always plays well in the playoffs. We have to get there first. You don’t want to look beyond. We’re not there yet, but we’ve got a good quality team. Just continue to play good baseball and hopefully you make it, then power pitching’s always a good thing.”
On the emotions as he left the field, Jackson said: “It was kind of hard to explain. It was kind of weird because I knew what was happening, but at the same time, I was in a daze a little bit. I really wanted to go hug all my teammates, really. But it is one of those situations where you don’t know what to do. You’re just stuck.
“It hasn’t really sunk in yet. But I think when I put that Seattle uniform on, I think it’ll turn the page and start a new chapter.”
Asked to recall his best Tigers memories, Jackson had a list.
“There’s a few. It’s hard to just really go to one,” he said. “Getting to play in the World Series here in my short career was probably the best moment that I’ve had here. The Gallarraga catch. I get chill bumps when I see that still. When we beat the Yankees and seeing Coke point that ball out. “
I have a lot of good moments here and good memories. Go try to start it somewhere else now.”