There has been some angst among fans of the Detroit Tigers. The thought was that the team would shedding payroll and enter another rebuilding phase, and wouldn’t be able to compete for top spot in the division – much less a World Series title that has eluded them for 32 years.

However, new owner Christopher Ilitch assured the team and fans otherwise while speaking at the team’s spring training facility in Lakeland, FL. The dedication and commitment to winning that both the Tigers and Red Wings enjoyed under late owner Mike Ilitch was unparalleled, and it looks like it will be continuing under his son.

“I told the players this morning: They are going to find the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree,” he explained. “My father loved baseball. He loved this Tigers team. He loved this actual team. And I would say to you: I share my father’s passion for baseball.”

He also reiterated his belief that this year’s version of the Tigers has the potential to do some great things.

“I love this franchise. Quite frankly, I love this team,” he said. “I think we have a team that could win a World Series. If our team comes together and everybody plays the way they can play, we have the personnel to have a very good season. I’m very excited about that.”

Ilitch also told the team that there wasn’t a mandate on shedding payroll, which appeared likely at the end of last season.

“There is no mandate on payroll…….I know Al has addressed payroll with you guys. I support Al’s approach wholeheartedly. Al has a great plan,” Ilitch said. “The first part of his plan is to beef up our personnel in sabermetrics and player development. His goal is to identify and draft the very best players in the world, and then we need to develop them. And he is beefing up our player-development area, as well as our scouting ranks.”

“I support his approach wholeheartedly.”

The Tigers’ regular season schedule officially begins April 3 against the Chicago White Sox in the Windy City.