TigsTown Roundtable: Spring Surprise

Ready to talk Tigers? Want to hear the opinion of the TigsTown staff? Welcome to the TigsTown Roundtable! This week's question: Who do you think will be the surprise of spring training?

Paul Wezner, Executive Editor
While there are lots of question marks heading into spring, and lots of guys that could surprise, one guy who I think is really going to turn heads will be Scott Sizemore. To most fans, Sizemore has been largely an unknown, having not yet gotten an at-bat in Detroit, and not being a first round pick and receiving the attention and accolades that come with that distinction. Based largely on that and little on his production, Tigers' fans are worried that Sizemore may not be up to the job. I expect him to change quite a few minds this spring as the fans get the chance to watch Sizemore spray line drives all over Joker Marchant Stadium. Replacing someone like Placido Polanco is no easy task, but with the expectations of a lesser-known rookie being as low as they are, Sizemore will surprise plenty and shine in his new role.

Mark Anderson, Managing Editor
There's a lot of guys that really could be a surprise in spring training, from Scott Sizemore or Austin Jackson, to Jeremy Bonderman or Brad Thomas, and the list goes on. There's one guy I think will really stand out in spring training though, and that player is Joel Zumaya. I've had some back-channel conversations that seem to indicate he's in better health than he's been in a couple of years, and if he doesn't feel pressured to be 'the man' in the bullpen, he could settle into a high leverage role where he can thrive; even if not to the levels he did in 2006. When the expectations are as low among fans as they are for Zumaya right now, there is nothing to do but impress. I still want to see him pitch before I'm completely back on the band wagon, and I'm certainly not standing on a pedastal screaming he'll be a dominating reliever in 2010, but I do think he'll surprise some people this spring by being an effective bullpen arm that can help anchor the 7th and 8th innings before things are turned over to Jose Valverde.

Jason Avery, Associate Editor, Amateur Baseball
I'll go with Jeremy Bonderman as a surprise of spring training. I'm aware of the reports that he is healthy and ready to go, but I'll be curious to see how he fares when he has to face major-league hitters again. If all goes well, he will be a big reason why the Tigers could very well winding up having one of the top rotations in the American League this year when it's all said and done. Keep in mind that after Justin Verlander, Rick Porcello and Edwin Jackson, the Tigers got very little from the No. 4 and 5 spots in the rotation last season, so if Bonderman bounces back and has a productive year, it would provide a big lift to the team, not to mention what Bonderman's value could be when he hits free agency next winter.

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