Kinsler Blasts a Pair
The Tigers cruised to a 14-3 win, featuring a pair of home runs from Ian Kinsler. He had been swinging well and impressing those around him, but put a big game together at the plate, going 3-for-4, driving in four runs, and also taking a walk, in addition to the two home runs, including one that went halfway up the berm beyond left field.
In the postgame, Ausmus referenced the term that make new-age fans cringe and old school fans drool, saying about Kinsler; "He's not just a good player, he's a good baseball player."
Castellanos Keeps Hitting
Nick Castellanos meanwhile continued to hit, going 2-for-4 with a double. He also had another hard hit ball ricochet off the third baseman's glove, which ended up going for an error but could have gone either way. He also drove in a run via a deep sacrifice fly to center, showing awareness of the situation, a quality he's often been praised for.
When asked about him continuing to hit, Ausmus said; "He's not going to continue to hit .500 obviously" also cautioning that "30 at-bats is a small bite sized sample." But, Ausmus continued, "He's had good at-bats, as good as anyone in camp."
Ausmus is clearly trying to be guarded in praising his likely rookie third baseman, stating, "It's a different game when the lights come on." Still, it's yet another encouraging sign as the rookie hits .447 in his first full spring big league camp.
Castellanos though looks the part, and not just in how he carries himself. He's noticeably filled out more since last September, look more muscular in his upper body, and less lanky, as has often been his look in a uniform as he grows into his 6' 4" frame. It certainly appears like he's grown up, in more ways than one.
Scherzer Not Sharp, But Life is Relative
Max Scherzer got the start and the win, but didn't have his best stuff. He gave up three runs on five hits in 4 2/3 innings, including laboring through a long second inning (which in his defense did come right after the Tigers batted around in the bottom of the first inning). He did strike out six while walking none, throwing 51 strikes on 77 pitches.
Struggling for Max is also relative here. Houston Astros starting pitcher Lucas Harrell didn't even make it through two innings, with a number of hard hit balls combining with some lucky bounces to result in him giving up ten runs, nine earned, on 12 hits in just 1 2/3 innings before exiting. Harrell wasn't sharp, but a couple seeing-eye singles
Roster Makeup Comes Down to Iglesias The Tigers are clearly giving some minor leaguers an extended audition. And to quote Ausmus, it all comes down to one thing. "A lot of it comes down to Jose Iglesias, really. Depending on how long he's going to be out, we may or may not need two shortstops. If you need two shortstops, you probably can't carry an extra outfielder. If you have Jose, then you can carry an extra outfielder, and it probably puts more people in play." When will they know about Iglesias? "It's still in the process of being sorted out," stated Ausmus. While he joked that they were hoping to have resolution on Iglesias yesterday, he stated; "One way or the other, there's going to be some sort of opportunity." But he acknowledged the elephant in the room, stating clearly "With every passing day, it's going to be extremely more difficult for him to get the number of at-bats needed to prepare for the season. In relatively short-order, we're going to be passing that tipping point that we're going to have to open the season without Jose."
UPDATE: After the game, it was reported by multiple national sources, including Jim Bowden, that Iglesias will miss most of the 2014 season with a shin injury. That report has not yet been confirmed by the Tigers.
V-Mart Gets Behind the Plate
Victor Martinez got three at-bats and had a single, a groundout, and a strikeout in Saturday's game. But more notable was that he got three innings behind the plate as well, catching for Scherzer. Ausmus said after the game that Martinez felt good. He also handled all of the pitch calls with Scherzer, so this appears to be something that won't just be an emergency only scenario.
Worth and Collins Shining in Roster Battle
Both Tyler Collins and Danny Worth were probably considered to be on the very outside of any potential roster opportunity when spring training started. But, with just over two weeks until Opening Day, both are still in camp, and making a case for serious consideration.
Collins went 3-for-5 and came a double short of the cycle, including a mammoth home run into the bullpens in deep right centerfield. Worth also had three hits along with a walk, driving in three runs via a triple and a long single down the left field line.
What might have been more noteworthy on the pair, besides their offensive success, was their place in the field. Worth started at shortstop and later moved over to second base, while Collins went the distance in center field, as opposed to his traditional left field.
TigsTown will have more on Worth and Collins, their chances of snagging a big league roster spot, and what the scouting report looks like on the pair in the coming days.