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On the day before the mandatory report date for Detroit Tigers pitchers and catchers, most pitchers and catchers (and many position players) were already in attendance at Joker Marchant Stadium. The players took part in light workouts in the Florida sun and unseasonably cool temperatures.
The man of the hour was Verlander who spoke with reporters about how he feels in his hopefully bounceback year, the reliance on his curve ball and the fact that he won’t fully change his approach unless he has to.
The second link looks at Jose Iglesias and how many games he will play at shortstop this year. James Schmehl sets it at 120, which I think is a very solid number. But since the game is not over/under/exactly, I’ll take the over. I think Jose will play most games as shortstop, in the 120’s but he’ll get more off-days than most regular shortstops because of his injury from a year ago.
Finally Chris McCosky takes an interesting look at Tigers’ baserunning from last year (Hint: brutal) and how they look to taken advantage of opportunities in 2015 but in smarter ways.
Tigers’ Verlander ‘way ahead of the curve’ early this spring – Anthony Fenech, Detroit Free Press
"“I’ve seen a pretty dramatic difference,” he said. “The curveball seems to be a lot better already than it was at any point last year.”Catcher Bryan Holaday, who stood in for the final few pitches of the session, agreed, saying the spin was nice and tight.Verlander notices the difference, especially in the break, from last year, when his breaking pitches, “Neither one of those pitches was good at all last year. They didn’t have the same bite.”He had a career-worst season in 2014, posting a 4.54 ERA with 159 strikeouts.His ERA was the highest since 2008. His strikeouts, the lowest since his rookie year.“It just wasn’t good,” he said. “I wasn’t right. It wasn’t me. Hopefully the work I did all off-season can get me back to where I need to be.”Most of that work came in the gym, where he was able to work out for an entire off-season, unlike last winter, when he was sidelined for much of it with rehabilitation from core muscle repair surgery. This year, Verlander already has a few bullpen sessions under his belt. Last year, he didn’t pick up a ball until the Tigers’ full squad reported.“Last year, it was kind of like you’re behind the 8-ball,” he said. “You had surgery and it’s like, I already gotta get out there and pitch and I can’t really worry about hitting the weight room,” he said. “This year was a bit different. I was able to focus on other things and get my strength back and then get on the mound.”"
Detroit Tigers over-under: How many games will Jose Iglesias start at shortstop this season? – James Schmehl, MLive
"Jose Iglesias insists he’ll be 100 percent when he officially reports to Lakeland next week. Tigers manager Brad Ausmus echoed similar comments last month and appeared confident Iglesias will have no problem reclaiming his role as the club’s starting shortstop when the season opens April 6.The big question, however, isn’t whether Iglesias will be healthy for the start of the season. It’s whether the 25-year-old will be able to remain healthy the entire season."
Tigers look to be ‘intelligently’ aggressive on bases – Chris McCoskey, Detroit News
"According to Baseball-Reference.com, the Tigers made 60 outs on baserunning plays last season, not including pickoffs or being caught stealing. Ian Kinsler (11), Nick Castellanos (seven) and J.D. Martinez (seven) were the main culprits.The Tigers had 20 runners thrown out at the plate and were successful on just 40 percent of their attempts to take an additional base on a single or double.“We have to be very aware as baserunners — what the situation is, what the score is, what inning and who is coming up to the plate,” Ausmus said. “I still want guys to force the issue on the defense, to some extent force them to make the play. But we have to be smarter.”Of the 335 runners who were on first base when a single was hit last season, only 94 got to third. Only 40 runners out of 104 scored from first on a double. From second base, 123 of 212 scored on a single."