Detroit Tigers: The Joys of Baseball in Spring Training
The cries of “spring training is boring” are beginning to emanate from the crowds of baseball fans who are ready to see games count. But, games like today’s Detroit Tigers vs. Philadelphia Phillies proved that spring training can still deliver a few fun moments.
Take for example, the home runs hit by Justin Upton. After a rather slow start, Upton actually hit not one, but two home runs today. The first literally left the actual park, going over the left field Tiki Bar at Bright House Field in Clearwater, Florida. Dan Dickerson said it was “the longest home run we have seen in this ballpark.”
Then, just to cement the fact that he has power in his bat, Upton hit a second dinger for the day. This one went into the outfield and bounced over the fence to leave the park, too. Hopefully, those home runs didn’t damage any expensive cars parked behind the outfield fences.
Home runs like this no longer happen in big league parks, especially parks like Comerica Park with fences over 400 feet. The San Francisco Giants fans get to enjoy out-of-the-park home runs at AT&T Park, but only because their park is set up with the walkway over the 309-foot right field wall. The rest of us just have to dream…
The other joy of spring training today came from Justin Verlander listening to the Skipper. The Ace got to have a pair at-bat today against the Phillies; but unfortunately for fans, one at-bat was a bunt. With no one on. He didn’t even run to first. The bow was classy, though.
It makes perfectly good sense why Verlander was instructed to bunt in such an unlikely situation. There are too many injured pitchers. The rest of the team could take care of the offense. This was a good call by Brad Ausmus.
Spring training also brings the joy of young players getting noticed. Now that so many recognizable minor league players have been optioned to Toledo and elsewhere, other minor league acquisitions like Gustavo Nunez get to shine. His up-the-middle base hit scored two runs. The bonus for Nunez was getting a highlight video on MLB.com.
Another player that got some playing time today was JV’s little brother Ben Verlander. He had one run today after he walked before Tyler Collins hit a triple that knocked in Little Verlander. It’s always fun to see the Verlander brothers together in the dugout, and it doesn’t happen often.
The pitching in today’s game was another mixed bag. Verlander pitched for five innings and allowed a little bit of everything. Justin Wilson, Confesor Lara, and Logan Kensing each struck out one batter in their single innings and allowed no runs. Mark Lowe was sub-par pitching in .2 allowing way too many batters to find success. Fernando Rodriguez continued his streak of allowing no hits and no runs, earning the win. Kensing earned the save. These K-Rod highlights are also a joy for fans who can easily see why Al Avila had to have him.
Next: Why Are So Many Detroit Pitchers Injured?
Fans only have seven more spring training games to enjoy before the wins and losses begin to count. Enjoy them while you can.