The Detroit Tigers and manager Brad Ausmus stayed on the road for their spring training games. This time, they headed for Viera, Florida, spring camp site for the Washington Nationals. The Nats are a legitimate World Series contender heading into 2015, with a loaded pitching staff that features two former Tigers pitchers in Max Scherzer and Doug Fister. We also have some injury news to report on the side of the Tigers, and some friendly advice from a former Tiger to a current Tiger, as we look at the news and notes for this Wednesday, March 11th.
NATIONALS 9, TIGERS 2
Neither the pitching or hitting showed up today for the Tigers against the Nationals. Pitcher David Price started for Detroit and did not fare well in his second outing of the spring, giving up 4 runs in only 2 innings of work.
— Dana Wakiji (@Dwakiji) March 11, 2015
Despite the rough start, Price said that he feels pretty good so far in March.
“My body feels good and the first couple starts in spring, that’s what you want to make sure that you can control,” Price said. “I just have to execute more. Throw more strikes, get ahead. Just another game. I’m getting in the swing of things.”
The Tigers will be going split-squad tomorrow for the first time this Spring Training. Pitcher Justin Verlander will head back to Lakeland to make a start against the Philadelphia Phillies, and pitcher Drew VerHagen will join the other squad heading to Kissimmee to take on the Houston Astros.
AVILA LEAVES GAME
Tigers starting catcher Alex Avila was starting for the third time in five games for Detroit on Wednesday. He made an early exit during the game.
#Tigers Ausmus: (Avila's) back tightened up. Not as bad as the last time. He won't play tomorrow.
— Dana Wakiji (@Dwakiji) March 11, 2015
The injuries just continue to snowball for Avila. He had a similar issue early on when spring training initially begun. Alex is a big wildcard this season for Detroit. His reoccurring health issues are a major concern for Brad Ausmus and Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski.
“He just said it started acting up while he was catching,” Ausmus said.
“Sometimes you do something and it inflames it, puts a little pressure on the nerve,” Ausmus said. “It can go away in a day, it can linger. You can go months without having it happen again or you can have it happen twice in the course of a week.”
If there is anyone that would know the pain and struggles that Avila is going through, it is Ausmus. It is something the Tigers will be monitoring on a daily basis all season long. Avila was scheduled to start at first base tomorrow for the first time this spring, but has since been scratched.
SCHERZER HAS ADVICE FOR PRICE’S CONTRACT SITUATION
Over the latest MLB off-season, the Tigers saw their former right-hander and Cy Young award winner in Max Scherzer test the free agent and eventually ink a monstrous deal with the Washington Nationals. Scherzer at this point last season was at fits with Tigers management about signing an extension, but obviously a deal was never reached. A 6-year, $144 million offer was made to Max at some point, but he turned it down.
Now it is 2015, and the Tigers are facing a similar situation with another one of their power arms in the rotation. David Price, as of right now, will be coming off the books after the conclusion of the 2015 season. He has said that he would be very much interested in discussing a potential extension with Detroit. However, like Scherzer, Price would prefer that a deal get done either during spring training or after the season is over.
Both Scherzer last season, and Price so far this season, have adamantly said that they would prefer not to discuss anything contract-related during the season, so that they could focus on pitching and winning. Max had some rather helpful words for the lefty and 2012 Cy Young winner:
“Obviously, it’s something you have to address,” Scherzer said. “You only get one shot at this, to sign a big deal, and he’s going to be in a position to be able to do it — whether he does it now or in the offseason. That’s his choice, but you have to do it right, and it’s something you have to be comfortable with.
“The biggest advice I can give is that when you come to the park, it has to always be about winning. There’s no room for anything else, any other motivation. The motivation is to try to go out and win every single time. That really worked for me.”
David Price followed up with this, talking about Mad Max:
“I saw him getting his work in every day. That’s what it’s about,” Price said of Scherzer. “It’s the same game I fell in love with when I was a little kid, so I don’t want things to change. I want to focus on the present and be the best teammate I can be from Day 1 through Day 4 and then go out there and give us a chance to win on that fifth day. And that’s what I’m focused on.”
The two all-star pitchers clearly have a similar mindset. Once Opening Day comes around, do not expect Price to be at all interested in any contract negotiations. With that said, it is only March 11th, and we have a long way to go.