By:  Kurt Snyder & Holly Horning

So, what do you think of the Grapefruit League season so far? Have you been paying attention to your team? Have you been watching games? Anything bothering you yet about your new team?

Our writers have chosen to address the annual question about the importance of wins and losses during Spring Training. It could be more important this year, or not.

So here’s the question.

We all know that spring training games don’t mean much. But the Tigers now have had several very long losing streaks including one with no wins in a week. How concerned are our two bloggers?


My initial reaction is, “you ain’t seen nothing yet!” I know there are all kinds of stats and numbers out there that support how a team will perform in the regular season based on their record in the spring.

But I will never consider them, ever. I would rather keep a Spring Training calendar and X out the days until it’s all over. Most springs I am completely disinterested until, well, this spring.

The new manager gets your attention. Some of the new players draw your interest enough to watch a few innings in a game or read an article about some of our more promising prospects. But the record means nothing to me; nothing major will be won or lost in spring training, especially this year.

If we are going to lose, might as well start early (kidding of course)! Really, my only concern is getting everyone to the regular season healthy; let’s get the kids on the field and see what happens, starting March 29th.


Obviously, there are some serious concerns given the rebuild and lack of viable and trustworthy starting pitching as exemplified by those 7 straight losses.

But to compare this unknown, unproven and untested team to those Tiger teams of the recent past can only be described as an apples-to-oranges attempt.

This is a whole new ballgame, folks, in every possible way because we are starting from scratch. Gone is the pre-determined roster of ensconced veterans who used February and March merely as tune-ups. Rosters were pretty much all set as were positions and lineup orders.

But Ron Gardenhire has inherited a team in which 5 out of 8 field positions will be changing. Four non-pitching positions that have competition battles and a starting pitching staff in which almost half will be new.

And then, for the first time in years, the Tigers really need to see what they have going in the minors, so many are getting more than a token amount of playing time.

There is construction chaos going on and this means that Gardy is in the middle of performing The Great Experiment. Seeing what is going to work, and who gels best with the team, is going to be given priority over the short-term satisfaction with winning spring training games.

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By:  Kurt Snyder

With 17 days to go until Opening Day, things are beginning to take shape with the Tigers. Yesterday, they fielded a lineup that could very well be what we see on Opening Day. To be positive, I don’t believe it will be the team’s weakness.

Where things will quickly need to evolve is in the starting rotation. It’s the area that should really make us nervous. Ron Gardenhire appears set on the bookends of his starting staff, with Michael Fulmer in place as the ace and Francisco Liriano holding down the fort at #5.

But there is a large hole in the middle, which is where Tiger fans must dig deep and find their patience. It’s where all the question marks reside.   Heck, Daniel Norris, who may have the most talent, may start in the minors!  That’s how confusing this whole bunch is.

Jordan Zimmermann? We have learned he can’t be trusted. Not in a Tiger uniform. He came over as a veteran to help stabilize the rotation and be that strong #2 after Justin Verlander. But he has been a Tiger bust, with a very concerning injury that could flare up at any time and ineffectiveness, which to me, has been brought on by that injury.

Mike Fiers? He wasn’t that good in Houston. He’s not the kind of talent that keeps a spot on a World Championship team for very long. And frankly, that’s why he’s here and no longer in Houston. Success and stability from him in the middle of the rotation is a longshot at best.

And Matthew Boyd? Well, he offers more hope, no doubt. He’s still young, has shown signs of putting things together with some flashes of success in 2017, but which way will he go from here? He’s out of minor league options, so the pressure is on for him.

And heck, if you think about it, Liriano had his most recent success coming out of the pen for a World Championship club, which made me hopeful when the Tigers acquired him.  He could be a stabilizing presence in OUR pen.   But he is penciled in as a starter in Detroit, which he could never be considered in Houston.

He, along with Mike Fiers, have been shipped here because the Astros have another title to win.  So they have upgraded their starting staff, making Liriano and Fiers unworthy of  further investment.

And now they are both here. These are not moves intended to move the needle, folks.  This is the painful part of rebuilding; bringing guys in on the downside of their careers to fill spots until younger replacements find their way.

Will there be pleasant surprises with this starting staff, or struggles that won’t allow the Tigers to put 2 wins together?  I have a guess.  When 4 of your 5 starters will be question marks heading into the regular season, then you begin to understand why the Tigers are considered to be one of the worst teams in baseball.

It’s pitching. It’s always pitching. And defense.

And what has Ron Gardenhire complained about the most this spring? The defense.

So, settle in everyone, I just wanted us to be on the same page. There will always be optimism. But there are going to have to be contributions from people we never saw coming to keep the loss total within 2 digits.

When pitching and defense are your weaknesses, you’re never getting out of the gate.


By:  Holly Horning

I was listening to the year in review the other day when the analysts reminded us that Houston had won the World Series in a year in which their city experienced one of the worst natural disasters.

Many of the Astros, including Justin Verlander, were quoted as dedicating their performances to all of those who lost belongings and friends/family to Hurricane Harvey.

It wasn’t the first time I had heard this. But it was the first time I started to wonder if there was a connection between significant disasters a city or region experiences and other baseball teams in recent memory who rose to the challenge.

You don’t have to go back very far to remember how the Boston Red Sox were very vocal about winning it all back in 2013 after the Boston Bombings. This, after a year in which they solidly finished last in the AL East. Well under .500 and 26 games back.

And, of course, the Bosox won it all in 2013 going from 69 wins to 97.

A year after the bombing, they returned to the cellar for both 2014 and 2015. Again, well under .500.

Was 2013 a freak year or could you argue that when an entire team bands together with a singular wish and goal, fueled by passion and determination, that they can overcome any odds?

In 2001, the NY Yankees dedicated the rest of their season to those who suffered in the 9/11 attacks. They managed to overcome the powerhouse Mariners who won 116 games that year to end up in the World Series against the Diamondbacks. They took the contest to 7 games and almost won. The Diamondbacks managed to eke out the winning run in the bottom of the 9th, earning the ring by a score of 3-2.

The St. Louis Cardinals, in 2011, did the same thing after one of this country’s worst tornadoes destroyed their state and killed hundreds.

And in 1967, Detroit experienced horrendous riots in the late summer. While the timing impacted their ability to effect change, they finished 20 games above .500, vastly improving their record during the remaining part of the summer. And ended the year just 1 game out of first place.

In 1968, the Tigers were considered to be the World Series underdogs. But 1967 was still fresh in their minds and the city still experiencing unrest. This was a team that had the same determination, the same goal and the same passion as the Boston, Houston and New York teams that came after it. St. Louis didn’t have a chance.

While no one wants to see history repeat itself, it’s worth noting that the power of the mind can create results that mere physical talent cannot. Combine it with a clear vision and goal, add everyone on the team buying in, and nothing is impossible.

The real question to ask is whether it is possible to achieve this level of mindfulness, determination and results in times of calm and prosperity.

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During the offseason, Totally Tigers has turned Saturday into a day to address the latest impactful news of the week, whether in Detroit or baseball in general.

Spring Training is in full swing and believe it or not, Opening Day is only 19 days away. So, what has gotten the majority of our writers’ attention this week?

Holly and Kurt don’t normally share their topics with each other in the interests of getting a wider range of perspective. Let’s see what they have for today.


Not since David Price complained to Dave Dombrowski at the end of his first season with the team about the bad defense that played behind him, have I heard anyone in Tigers’ organization be vocal about the sloppy defensive levels for years. Maybe even a decade. Until now.

Ron Gardenhire has given 3 interviews this week alone mentioning how he is “irked” about what he has seen in the field and how it needs to change.

And my jaw hit the ground when I read that he actually sits with the players after a game and reviews what went right and what needs to be addressed. (What a novel idea!)

His predecessor, Brad Ausmus, never did any of this despite the official definition of a manager being one who “trains”, “coaches and develops existing employees”, “addresses performance problems”, “supports problem resolution”, “conducts timely performance evaluations” and “monitors performance and initiates action to strengthen results”.

The only thing worse than ignoring poor play levels? Having an owner and GM who knew that Brad was ineffective at his job (and didn’t do any of this) and kept him for his entire contract, plus the option year, anyway.


This off-season will forever go down as the Hot Stove that wasn’t, until almost spring training, when more of the high-profile free agents finally signed with their new teams.

But incredibly, after weeks of spring training, there are still some upper crust free agents playing the waiting game and are just now beginning to give up. They have resorted to signing one-year deals with their old teams.

Mike Moustakas and Carlos Gonzalez have both returned to Kansas City and Colorado, respectively, almost with their tails between their legs.

So what does this say about the game? Well, baseball has won when players are unable to snag big contracts at a time when they were overvalued, when in the past, despite their value, they would have garnered large sums of money.

Some semblance of order is returning to the game at long last.

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microphoneHappy Friday! It’s time again to head into the weekend hearing from our readers.   You have the rest of the week to hear from Kurt and Holly, today is the day to let them know what you’re thinking on a selected topic.

Friday is the one day of the week where we open up the comment parameters for you, so you can get those juices flowing.

Comments on THIS DAY ONLY can be expanded to a maximum of 8 sentences.

We can’t wait to get your thoughts on the following topic.

Since spring camp opened last month, what has been the biggest surprise so far?

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By:  Kurt Snyder

In the short, 10+ minutes I spend listening to MLB Radio on the way home from work every day, I have 2 objectives. I am looking to educate myself on the latest baseball news of the day and am always in search of a topic that could supplement a future blog.

Nobody cranks out a daily blog of any interest without a fair amount of research, and we are blessed with a technological age that provides a plethora of information at our finger tips.

This week, I listened to some programming on the importance of veteran leadership. It can be the difference when trying to finish the job and win a championship or it can be an important ingredient for teams rebuilding.

I hate to bring them up, but I will blame MLB Radio, because they referenced the 2013 World Champion Boston Red Sox.  Much was made about how the team went from last place in 2012 to a championship in 2013.

This was not a rebuild. Boston had loads of talent. But perhaps they didn’t have the X-factors. Perhaps they were starving for more veteran leadership. And their acquisitions of Jonny Gomes, David Ross and Shane Victorino were applauded.  These players were catalysts; role players with leadership ability, attitude and enthusiasm. Prototypical glue guys.

But don’t forget the guy named Koji who emerged as an almost unhittable closer to finish games. That’s right, you need some luck, too,  in order to win championships, and Koji Uehara kind of fell out of the sky for Boston.

Like the Red Sox, the 2018 Tigers are a team coming off a last place season. They still have some hold-over veteran talent and they have some promising young talent as well. But there are no comparisons I can conjure up to head in the crazy direction you think I may be headed.

The Tigers are rebuilding. And adding an infusion of veteran leadership never hurts any ballclub at any stage of development. But I will never suggest, certainly not at this point, that the Tigers are ready to add that element in the interests of competing. They have veterans, and they have added a couple, but it is in the interests of depth, not glue, for a championship run.

You can look at the Tiger vets and none of them are considered true leaders. Miggy? No. VMart? Not anymore.  Even Nicholas Castellanos still has some hurdles to conquer before we can consider him a leader. And I don’t consider him to be safe here anyway. There are very few untouchables on this team.

But one is Jeimer Candelario; the young, switch hitting, 24-year old third baseman the Tigers acquired from the Cubs in the Justin Wilson / Alex Avila deal last season.

You see, this discussion is not about veteran leadership. It’s about young, future leaders. Near future. The next chapter of winning baseball in Detroit will emerge based on the success of new leaders.

There is so much we still don’t know about a lot of these new players. Some are so young, we may not see them for years.  Only a couple may see the field in Detroit in 2018.

But one thing is for sure. The Tigers have seen enough of Candelario to make room for him in their starting lineup. Third base is his position to lose. Castellanos has been shifted to right field to open the door for Jeimer and offer him every opportunity to help lead the Tigers.

So, what is it about him? Well, without even hitting the ball, without even catching the ball, there are signs. He has been said to have all the attributes of a player beyond his years;  from his already very strong body to his confident body language and a composed focus few have seen from an inexperienced 24-year-old.

When discussing hitting, he doesn’t talk power. He talks opposite field. He takes cues from Miggy. Smart man. He understands the importance of his hands when hitting to the opposite field and hitting to the gaps; an approach he brings to the plate every at-bat.  Again, smart man.

The Tigers have acquired several promising young players; many we hope will join together to help build a winner. But one has already cracked the lineup, and when you watch him play, you can understand why we are seeing him so soon.

This is the kind of season to focus on individual players. And when I attend games, I am going to focus on our new third baseman. A full season of baseball will be the true test for a guy who appears to have the tools and the intangibles to help lead this team into the future.

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By:  Holly Horning

Let’s take a quick quiz, shall we?

Who is the Invisible Man?

1. Claude Rains who starred in those ancient black and white movies of the same name where his character donned bandages, glasses and hats in order to be seen.

2. The title of one of the greatest American novels ever written by Ralph Ellison.

3. Dave Clark, the third base coach of the Tigers.

If you watched Tiger games over the past 4 years, and also the spring training game the other day, you know the answer to this one.

Once again, Miguel Cabrera blatantly ignored Dave’s desperate plea to stop at third base and he barreled through, getting thrown out at home by a mile.

Since 2014, Miggy has had a habit of ignoring management. Playing when it was apparent he should be on the DL. Ignoring his third base coach’s signals. And for 4 years, no one said a peep to him.

But that changed the other day when Ron Gardenhire approached Miggy as he headed back to the dugout. Gardy asked him to explain his rationale. Cabrera gave one. An explanation that now has been used up and can’t be recycled again.

And this is a good sign. There’s a new sheriff in town who has been brought in, in part, to restore law and order.

But notice that Gardy didn’t yell. His face didn’t turn red. And he didn’t punish Miggy in any way.

But he did put Miggy on notice. Diplomatically. And he didn’t throw him under the bus to the media.

Gardy’s a smart man. You don’t anger your most expensive roster player who has no chance of being traded. You don’t make a player unhappy who can then spread his bad attitude to the rest of the clubhouse.

You gradually put up speed bumps that inspire him to gradually change his ways. Methods that preserve the ego and allow the player to think that he changed his ways because he wanted to do it.

And unfortunately, you must have different ways of working with different players. Your rookie making minimum and still uncertain about his long-term position with the team is going to be very malleable and in a position of no power. Your star, your franchise face, your future Hall of Famer, your most expensive player and a guy still owed $184 million is going to require a very different approach.

In part, because of the investment and his direct line to the GM and owner. But also because he can get the manager fired or at the very least, render him ineffective with the rest of the team.

Just ask Bryce Harper who was a catalyst in getting his last 2 managers canned.

The days of the gruff, bombastic manager are gone as surely as having your starting pitcher throw a complete game. Managers now have to be diplomats. In part because how people communicate, especially the millennial players, has changed dramatically But it’s also due to money. The bigger the contract, the more power a player has.

So expect Gardy to practice what the French call “the iron fist in the velvet glove.” He drew a line in the sand by talking to Miggy and leaving a gentle reminder. A reminder that will now tell Miggy if he does it again, Gardy is going to talk to him again. And Miggy will need to find another excuse. One that sounds plausible.

Cabrera will realize that if he continues, it will eventually turn into a failed strategy for him. When you allow the other person to come to their own conclusion about changing, instead of fighting them on it, you win the battle. And best of all, the player is also going to think he won, too.

But it’s going to be a gradual process. We’re still going to see some players, especially the more expensive veterans, do their own thing. But it will be happening less and less. You can’t undo 4 years of zero enforcement in 1 or even 2 months.

But eventually, there will be less loafing to first base, more situational hitting and even a recognition that there is an actual live body standing in that box outside of third base.  And that he is there for a reason.

And if you haven’t noticed, the Tigers DH is no longer hitting 4th. He’s been moved down in the order. And writers reported seeing him smile the other day.

I think the strategy is starting to work.

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By:  Kurt Snyder & Holly Horning

As the regular season approaches, and it will be here in the blink of an eye, who in the game will we watch the most? Who will we keep an eye on?

Kurt and Holly have not shared their answers to the following question. That’s the policy. You know it. You love it. They do it for you. So, let’s get on with it.

Which 5 baseball people will be most interesting to watch this year? Why?



In recent years, there have been young players who have exploded onto the scene and commanded a portion of baseball’s big stage, and I have wondered when the Tigers would find one of those players. In a short amount of time, Jeimer Candelario, both at the end of last season and so far, this month in Lakeland, has given us glimpses of someone who could be a star in this town.


As much as JV says the championship must go through Houston, the Yankees, right or wrong, will steal a lot of the attention. Aaron Boone will begin his managerial career with a loaded team, ready to explode, and if they don’t win in New York this season, he will get a lot of the heat and the ‘why a rookie?’ question may re-emerge in another baseball town.


I would like to head in a different direction to what appears to be a priority for Gardy leading into the regular season. He knows how important good health means to the success of this team when it comes to his 2 veterans in the middle of the lineup, and he has made it a point to let them know to be smart with how hard they push things in Lakeland; we will see if the strategy makes a difference.


With all the turmoil surrounding Miggy over the last year (or more), doesn’t it come down to that smile? Isn’t that when we know things are good, when he’s relaxed, having fun and all that is left to do is play the game with all the talents we have been so lucky to witness while he has been a Tiger – don’t we need to see that again as reassurance?


How will Bryce perform during the most important season of his career, knowing he could sign the richest contract in the history of sports? One of the most ridiculous thoughts imaginable is that a team could consider offering one player a $400M contract, thinking that it would be good for their franchise, and I’m hopeful that the overall landscape has indeed changed when it comes to free agents, and that more rational thoughts will continue to permeate the marketplace.


For me, my 5 were selected for multiple reasons and not just for their performance on the field this coming year. For each, the future of their team also hangs in the balance.


The entire Tigers pitching staff ranked dead last in almost every category last year and the young pitchers acquired by both Dave and Al have stagnated or stopped in their development. Simply acquiring prospects isn’t going to matter at all – and the Tigers will never successfully rebuild – unless the promising pitchers have the resources and coaching they need to reach their full potential.


It’s obvious he needs to have a rebound year but his long-term success is paramount to the Tigers becoming viable contenders before 2026. Miggy is still owed $184 million and takes up just shy of 1/4th of the Tigers total player payroll, which will prohibit trading him, as well as be a huge albatross around the team’s neck if he can’t regain his dominance.


He inherited a fractured clubhouse where players made their own rules so it will be interesting to see how (and if) he can eradicate the cliques, bad attitudes, loafing to first base and of course, the ubiquitous running through Dave Clark’s stop signs. But if he can take this rag-tag revised roster and get them to perform above expectations, it will make me wonder what would have happened if the Tigers had moved on Jim Leyland’s recommendation to hire him back in September 2013.


He’s been duplicating his big-spending ways and trading off prized prospects in Boston as he did in Detroit and while his Red Sox won their division last year, they were the first team to be eliminated in the playoffs. As he enters his third year as President (and acting GM) with a team loathe to keep a GM beyond 3 years, his success or failure there will give us greater perspective about his job and role in trying to get Mr. I that ring.


Won’t it be interesting to see how he performs with a full year of pitching for the Astros? If JV regains the dominance he had when the Tigers were winning division titles, it will be a statement about what was lacking with Tigers’ coaching and not having an established analytics department (including the pitching tech equipment) that he used, and praised, extensively in Houston.

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By:  Kurt Snyder

Before I lead everyone down another path of intriguing baseball dialogue, I must spend a portion of this space recognizing Holly’s now well-publicized workout regimen. Wow, pretty impressive, huh?

In response, here is mine.

First, I have a treadmill.  Second, I use it on occasion. Third, just driving by a CrossFit gym makes me drive a little faster – far, far away. Pushing on the gas quickly, helps to stretch my Achilles.

This just further reinforces how we are 2 writers on opposite spectrums.  In life really.   And I like to think that what I am doing is holding up my end of the bargain. 

You’re welcome.

Let me continue with an apology. In my last publication, the monthly 20 Thoughts, one thought questioned whether Chris Ilitch had been seen in Lakeland. I insinuated that Chris had no time for the Tigers, which has now been debunked.

He is indeed in Lakeland and he got plenty of face time Saturday in front of the media. Interviews showcased his excitement for what is happening with the team and the franchise. He expressed how impressed he is with Al Avila and the staff he has built in analytics, scouting and player development. All good things. Good things to say. It’s important that he publicly show his support.

It’s very important,  for those who find comfort in knowing that the owner is front and center in good times and in bad. And also for those who believe a team with good public relations should realize that they need to get their owner out there.

I was concerned that Chris would not show for spring training. That would have been bad. Because this is not just a team beginning a rebuild, they have a relatively new owner, who emerges on the heels of one of the most successful sports owners in, well, sports.

And that man, just happened to be his father. So, Chris should have learned plenty. He doesn’t have to share the same philosophy. But he does need to find that same passion for winning demonstrated by his father.

People are questioning his passion, and his involvement in the inner workings of his baseball team. People are questioning his dedication and where he spends the majority of his time. None of us know those answers.

The Red Wings are in the midst of a rebuild themselves and they have a new arena that supports both the Wings and the Pistons, 2 teams that fans have not been embracing. The Wings are beginning to acquire draft picks and the Pistons don’t seem to know what they want to do. Winning is not in the near future for those 2 franchises.

You could say that the whole Detroit sports scene is in a period of transition. Heck, anytime the Lions offer the best chance for winning in Detroit, we have ourselves a transition.

Baseball fans in Detroit are not hard to please. But winning and contending has been common place. Expected. Taken for granted. But we did not have perfect ownership. We had very good ownership with a zest for winning and a penchant for overspending.

But since overspending has necessitated a rebuild, it’s really important to constantly let the fans know that despite what they see on the field this year, there is a plan for success.

It’s important that the owner get himself out there front and center, prove his enthusiasm and reassure the skeptical fan base. Perception plays a huge role and fans can only go by what they believe to be true, so it’s important to make them believe that they should be optimistic at a time when it will be tough for them to be.

Regardless of the intent, Chris Ilitch has begun what he needs to continue to do all season. Make his presence known and appear to be at the forefront of this rebuild. Keeping up with appearances is all part of the show biz of sports.

Chris needs to be around to kiss the babies, wave to the crowd and assure everyone that everything is going to be ok. For a lot of us, we need more. But for much of the Detroit fan base and their fleeting interest, it will be enough.

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By:  Holly Horning

…makes us stronger.”

A little known fact – Friedrich Nietzsche uttered these immortal words after working out with a personal trainer.

OK, maybe a slight exaggeration, but his words were the first things running through my mind at the gym the other day.

I made a foolish, impulsive mistake. And I blame it all on Olympic medalist Lindsey Vonn.

I happened to watch a video of how she trains for the downhill and was floored by what I saw. I was pretty proud of the fact that I could do squats with weights on a BOSU but Lindsey does them standing on a freakin’ balance ball while holding a weight roughly equivalent to that of a small child.

For the record, Miguel Cabrera, only this year, is able to kneel on a balance ball without holding any weights.

Watching Lindsey’s training regime prompted me to call my personal trainer and tell him that I needed to up my game. He became positively gleeful. Probably because he tortures people for a living.

Before I describe the sheer terror and punishment I endured – with periodic flashbacks of my life during certain exercises – as I went through the drills, it’s important to understand my background.

I have always been athletic. Twenty+ years of classical ballet, yoga and reformer Pilates as my training and conditioning foundations. Lots of outdoor and indoor sports as well as a dedicated gym rat 5 days/week. I run 2+ miles every day. I’ve also been known to drag big, heavy car parts across a gym field. And I’ve worked with personal trainers for years as well as having a few professional sports PTs as clients.

What this all means is that I walk the walk. My background, especially with my ballet, yoga, Pilates training and regular tune-ups with a physical therapist, have given me a detailed understanding of how all the muscles, tendons and other body bits allow humans to move freely – or not. And it’s provided great discussion topics with personal trainers as it pertains to the training and conditioning of professional athletes.

I belong to a hard-core gym owned by a former Olympic medalist. And many of the clients who work out there are serious athletes. Some of them professional. And I watch them. I watch their routines and I watch how they move.

I watch the body builders. Guys, like many professional athletes, who can’t buy their clothes off the racks. Guys who often wear braces on their joints due to previous and long-standing injuries. Guys who grunt a lot and move very slowly. Guys with slower response times. Guys who spend the majority of their time only lifting weights because they believe that is the only way to go.

And then there are the ones who cross-train. Many of them visibly muscular but also taller, leaner and much, much faster. They lift their weights but they split it evenly between fine muscle tuning and aerobic activity. HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) is a big part of their routine. And as a result, they appear healthier, have faster response times and can much more easily switch gears at a second’s notice. They pivot, stop and start seamlessly. All without pulling or tweaking something unlike Travis Wood and Francisco Liriano. And you don’t see them hobbled or wearing protective braces.

And it’s to this latter group I pledge my allegiance. Having the capacity to not only build muscle, but to also outlast others in endurance, to be fast with cat-like reflexes and to have a supple, flexible body structure that helps to keep me physically young, moving easily and preventing injury.

Priorities that made me re-think my goals as my personal trainer pulled out a large, tall box and wanted me to do bigger box jumps. That’s when visions of Daniel Norris and his injury resulting from a crash-and-burn box jumping session last year flashed before my eyes.

Which now brings me to the Tigers.

I’ve been to a number of the Tigers’ spring training games, always arriving as the doors just open and the players have started to run through drills on the field. And I’ve got to say, I personally know at least a couple dozen middle-aged men and women who are more flexible and limber than the majority of the team.

Some of the players appear disinterested and unfocused while simply going through the motions. It was astounding to see how many could not even touch their toes or do the basic ground stretches to an acceptable level. The bigger players especially appeared to have a harder time doing the drills that are supposed to keep them healthy and prevent injury.

It wasn’t a pretty picture. They reminded me of the big, bulky guys in the gym who have problems moving fluidly. Guys with muscles so big that their bulk prohibits the muscles, tendons, ligaments, joints, etc. from moving freely and easily. And when you need to move quickly and suddenly, but the response time is lagging, that’s when you get hurt.

And it becomes an even bigger issue when it involves your franchise face who happens to have one of sports’ most expensive contracts. Miggy. A man who has been injured every year since 2013 with feet, tendon, knee, core and now vertebrae problems.

I’m amazed that only now has he, and the Tigers, started to address his physical conditioning after playing baseball professionally for 20 years. Why does it have to take a career-worst year and intense work-stopping pain to inspire change?

Cabrera finally admitted that maybe he shouldn’t have focused solely on weight-lifting. That maybe he should have spent more time addressing the overall conditioning. That maybe, he should have done some core work.

The core is the center, or foundation, of the body which holds up and aligns everything within the entire body. A core, that when absent or weak, throws the body out of alignment and creates an environment that welcomes injury. Especially when it comes to the back.

“Core” work is something that has been absent within the Tigers’ training and conditioning program. It is silly that an (almost) 35-year-old professional athlete is just now discovering its importance 2 decades after signing his first baseball contract.

But we’re now hearing from older ballplayers with other teams about how they have changed their training regimen. The trend is moving away from spending quality time just lifting weights and running. They are working towards whole-body fitness. Doing more conditioning, flexibility exercises and less lifting. Several of whom became quite vocal this off-season about how the programs meant to lengthen and strengthen bones and soft tissue have extended their careers and gotten them in the best shape possible.

More and more teams are requiring their players to take Pilates and yoga in the off-season as well as during spring training. Two disciplines attached to studies that show fewer injuries happen. One that even correlates the practice of Pilates with pitchers who are able to increase and maintain their pitch speed as they age.

It’s just too bad that some teams don’t explore the advantages until constant, nagging or severe injuries make it the last resort. Especially when you have a team in which 3 of your top players, making a combined $72 million in 2018 alone, haven’t been healthy in years.

I don’t think I’m alone in wondering if the Tigers had incorporated more conditioning and flexibility programs into their player development whether some of the players, and the yearly results, would have turned out differently.

But what we do know is that neglecting the strategies that keep one healthy is not a sound way to protect expensive investments.

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