March 7, 2011

Monday Mankowskis: Boredom City, Florida

PhilMankowski77I know it’s early, but it seems to me this is one boring Tigers Spring Training.

For all intents and purposes, there’s no drama to speak of with most of the coverage focusing on the prospects that are shining in Lakeland.

But here are some of the things that stand out for yours truly:

  • If there’s one player that makes me uneasy heading into the regular season, it’s Alex Avila. In reading Lynn Henning’s Sunday’s A-to-Z review of Tigers so far this spring, he says this:
    He’ll hit. But it’s OK to wonder when he’ll drive the ball the way he did during his 2009 cameo.

    This is the first time since, when?, 2003 that the Tigers have a question mark — or something close to it — at catcher. Once Pudge Rodriguez left town, the club brought in Gerald Laird and he was, well, not the answer. But we all thought he’d start hitting somewhere close to where he did in Texas (at least against the Tigers, that is.)

    Certainly having Victor Martinez around will make the catching corps dramatically less frightful, but still, aren’t the Tigers placing an awful lot of faith in a guy who isn’t long out of college? What do you think?

  • I forgot to mention, or at least I think I did, when I went to watch the Diamondbacks train a couple of weeks ago, I got to see Armando Galarraga get racked in batting practice. Moments before that, I got close enough to talk to him through the fence and told him that we love him in Detroit. He said, “Thanks, man, I appreciate it.” He may not be the most devastating pitcher in the bigs, but a nice guy? That, he is.

  • On March 7, 1965, Tigers manager Chuck Dressen suffered a mild coronary occlusion. He was sidelined until May 19. Coach Bob Swift served as acting manager in the meantime, And on this date in 2000, the Tigers acquired cash from the Royals for catcher Gregg Zaun. Opting instead to go with the stud backup catcher that was Javier Cardona. Zaun hit .274 in K.C. — 99 points higher than Cardona.

    Another Randy Smith gem.

  • One of the reasons I like Jim Leyland so much is his deep history with the Tigers organization. He was the first manager of many players that were on the 1984 championship team. In this piece in Sunday’s Freep, we learn a bit about his relationship with one of my favorites, Jack Morris:

    [Leyland] said Jack Morris was as temperamental as they come.

    “You’ve got to be careful that you don’t take something away that’s a strong suit,” Leyland said. “But you can’t let a pitcher continue like a bull in a china shop.”

    Leyland managed Morris in the minors.

    “I stayed on top of Jack pretty good,” Leyland said. “He handled it well. We have a great relationship even today. I’m proud of that.

  • How’s Nate Robertson doing with the Mariners, you ask? Check out this headline to uncover the answer.

Finally, my apologies for the long stretch without a post. I’ve never wanted to post just for the sake of posting — you deserve better than that.

More to come this week.

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