It won’t be long before the Detroit Tigers gather for the 2021 edition of Spring Training in Lakeland, Fl. This will mark the official beginning of new skipper A.J. Hinch’s tenure in the Motor City.
Pitchers and catchers will be reporting on February 17, with a full team workout scheduled for five days later on February 22.
“Now it’s time to work,” Hinch said Tuesday. “It’s less talk, more work. You get to see where your team is physically. You get to see where your team is fundamentally. You get to put your stamp on the tone of a workout, the pace of your workout, the intensity of your workout.”
As the team roster begins to take shape, Hinch will be sure to keep his eyes out on names that are competing for spots that aren’t normally looked at as shoe-ins.
“Maybe there’s somebody highlighted in yellow, that’s how I do it, who is not quite on our team, but it’s somebody that I’m like, ‘I really want this guy to win a job,’ ” Hinch said. “You can go into a camp with these three outfielders on our team, and this group of four of five outfielders are competing for that fourth or fifth outfield spot.”
With an array of names in the outfield competing for spots alongside regulars JaCoby Jones, Victor Reyes and Robbie Grossman, there’s nothing wrong with some healthy competition.
“That’s something that will make everybody sit up straight because we have a lot of numbers in that outfield,” Hinch said. “Maybe an opportunity is out there. We’re not afraid to upgrade, and we’ll do it very methodically.”
As far as the infield is concerned, the Tigers are still reportedly shopping the market to give the team additional depth and options.
“We’re fluctuating between having some options we can move around and having some competition,” Hinch said. “Where are we going to play Candelario? Where does Goodrum fit in? How many games can Willi Castro play? Is it all of them? The answers that we need are going to have to come on the field.
“When you come to our camp,” Hinch continued, adding he expects eight or nine catchers in spring training, “you’re going to see some competition heating up throughout spring in that infield position and last outfield position.”
However, a team closing pitcher won’t be decided upon any time soon by Hinch.
“Naming a closer in January is not going to happen this year with me, especially on this team,” Hinch said, “because we’re entering with questions on roles to being with, but we have a couple of options.”
How about some of the young guns that are expected to become a major part of the team success down the road?
“For the most part, you can expect the major-league team and the Triple-A team to be in camp,” Hinch said. “You have to be in camp in order to get to Triple-A, so now you bring in some of those guys that might be on the Double-A, Triple-A bubble. Those guys are going to be invited to some form of major-league camp, as well.
“You pile up those numbers, and we’re still going to have a few leftovers. We’re very optimistic that the prospects can handle back-to-back camps if we ask them to. I would expect some of the bigger prospects to be in camp. Not all of them. We’re going to have to be very specific because of the limitations on how many players we can have in camp and the staffing for that. But I think some recognizable names that will not open up in Triple-A are being considered for big-league camp and will likely be there.”
– – Quotes via Evan Petzold of The Detroit Free Press Link – –