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KALAMAZOO, MI — With the calendar quickly approaching February, it’s time to start thinking Tigers baseball! I know it’s a bit tough to imagine, especially since temperatures the past week were near zero. However, pitchers and catchers report in just 2 weeks, with the rest of the squad set to join them 3 days later on February 14th. Lakeland, Florida will soon be buzzing, and we here at DSN couldn’t be more ready and excited to begin talking about the Tigers. That being said, here are a few bits of Tigers news to keep you in the loop:
-Jim Leyland has come out and stated Joaquin Benoit will NOT be in the mix for the closers role, according to a report in the Detroit News. Benoit, Leyland says, does not pitch well on back-to-back days and thus would not be a good candidate for closing games. With veteran Jose Valverde not returning, the Tigers will clearly rely on rookie Bruce Rondon to win the job in Spring Training. If Rondon can’t get the job done, it’s expected Phil Coke will get a shot at it, before Detroit hits the free agent market.
-According to the Detroit Free Press, Austin Jackson has been working hard on his base stealing skills during the off-season. Since stealing 27 bases in 2010, Jackson’s numbers have steadily declined each season, with 22 in 2011, and only 12 in 2012. Look for A-Jax to be much more aggressive on the base paths in 2013.
-Agents for Tigers ace Justin Verlander have reported to M-Live.com that there have been no discussions yet about signing the former Cy Young & MVP Winner from 2011 to an extension. Verlander has 2 years left on his deal, but reports are already circulating that the 30-year old right hander could become baseball’s first $200 million dollar pitcher.
-Let the battle officially begin for the 5th starters position! It appears Rick Porcello will be staying in Motown for at least the beginning of the season, which means he and southpaw Drew Smyly will duke it out this spring for the right to be the Tigers anchor in the rotation.
-Lastly, Victor Martinez is expected to be 100% by the start of Spring Training, which is outstanding news!
Pitchers and catchers report on February 11th, and the team as a whole reports on the 14th. The countdown is on!
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