By: Holly Horning & Kurt Snyder
Today we switch things up and identify the issues we would like to see addressed by the Tigers. Below each writer brings: 5 Questions We Want to See Answered in Spring Training.
1. WILL THE TIGERS REMAIN RELATIVELY INJURY FREE? – This needs to be an “all hands on deck” year and the Tigers can’t afford to have anyone lost or not at full-strength for more than a couple weeks. We can’t have a 4th year in a row where injury has been blamed for the Tigers not succeeding in October.
2. WILL VMART REGAIN HIS OLD WAYS? – Make no mistake; he is the catalyst at the plate – the Park Place to Miggy’s Boardwalk. So far, his performances have looked promising but management also needs to have a plan in hand to keep him rested and healthy.
3. WILL THE NEW KID MEET EXPECTATIONS? – Justin Upton will need a little bit of time to settle into his new team but let’s hope he is inspired to take advantage of his new lineup neighbors and raise his own performance bar. The team also really needs him to pull out the stops on his excellent baserunning ability because the rest of the team needs all the help they can get.
4. WILL GIBSON BE EFFECTIVE WITH BASERUNNING? – Let’s hope Gibby is continuing to work with players now that games are being played because the team is that bad in baserunning. The key elements to watch are how many runners continue to get picked off, doubled-off or unable to run from first to third.
5. WILL BRAD USE THE BULLPEN STRATEGICALLY? – The reclamation projects are gone and the promising youngsters have taken over. But it will be for naught if a cookie-cutter formula is used instead of a strategy of quasi-assigned roles with the understanding that particular situations, esp. high leverage ones, will dictate a different strategy.
1. WHAT WILL BE THE PLAN FOR CENTERFIELD WHILE MAYBIN IS OUT? – Brad Ausmus revealed this week that Wynton Bernard is a candidate to help fill the void left by Cameron Maybin’s injury. It surprises me that they would consider someone as inexperienced as Bernard. But I guess now is a good time to find out what a young, speedy outfielder has to offer.
2. WILL SANCHEZ COMEBACK AND BECOME THE KEY TO THE STARTING ROTATION? – So far so good on Sanchez’s recovery. We should see him on the mound soon down in Lakeland. But I would like to hear the words “100 %” when Opening Day rolls around.
3. WILL BRAD AUSMUS TAKE CHARGE OF THIS TEAM? – Well, it’s time isn’t it? There have been far too many instances in the past where the chickens appeared to be running the hen house. Brad’s got a nice team to manage and now he needs to lead.
4. WILL THE TEAM EMERGE RELATIVELY HEALTHY THIS SEASON? – Well, the spring has not been free of injury, but there hasn’t been a disaster. Losing Maybin hurts but the timing shouldn’t hurt the Tigers too badly. The one to watch is Sanchez, who is absolutely critical to the team’s quest for a championship.
5. WILL KROD SHOW HE STILL HAS CLOSER STUFF? – It’s a worthy question as we haven’t seen him in game action yet. We are all assuming he’s still got it. But I will feel better when we start to see drama free late inning relief from our closer.