Tigers return to SVSU
Fewer stars this year, but fans as excited as ever
January 15, 2008 —
Baseball fans gathered at the Ryder Center Monday, as members of the Detroit Tigers stopped at SVSU as part of their annual statewide baseball caravan. Attendees were given the opportunity to see some of the 2008 squad up close, ask questions, and hear them talk about the upcoming season.
Justin Verlander, Bobby Seay, and Marcus Thames along with pitching coach Chuck Hernandez, assistant general manager Al Avila, and Tigers announcer Dan Dickerson were present to discuss the coming season.
Unlike last year's rally, which focused on the Tigers' road to the 2006 World Series, this year focused on their potential for the upcoming season.
When asked if he thought the Tigers could make it to the World Series this year, Verlander simply replied, "Yes."
"I think we can," he said. "I think we have the talent."
Thames also shared his enthusiasm.
"I'm excited to get going," the left fielder said. "I finally got a chance to meet all the guys that we got in the trades. I'd like to see what we're going to do on the baseball field."
Hernandez was asked if the high expectation for the Tigers to make it to the World Series puts a lot of pressure on the coaches to keep the players in line.
"These guys are professionals," Hernandez replied. "We are going to have to pitch well."
Other topics discussed included players recovering from injuries and players acquired during the winter.
Avila and Hernandez both discussed the current status of injured players Gary Sheffield, Kenny Rogers, and Joel Zumaya.
"Sheffield is on track to be ready for opening day," Avila said. "Rogers is fully recovered."
"Hopefully we'll have him [Rogers] back and healthy," Hernandez said. "Zumaya will be out until at least midseason."
Dontrelle Willis, Miguel Cabrera, Jacque Jones, and Edgar Renteria are some of the players that the Tigers received during the trades.
"It shocked me when I heard about the trade," Thames said. "Dontrelle, he's a great pitcher. Cabrera, he's a pretty good hitter. Jacque, Edgar, and those guys, it's going to be fun. If everybody stays healthy it's going to be a fun year in Detroit."
When the question of third basemen Brandon Inge's fate came up, Dickerson said general manager Dave Dave Dombrowski addressed the topic at Saturday's TigerFest.
He said Inge wants to be an everyday player and the Tigers are trying to make that happen. As of now, Inge is still part of the 2008 roster.
The last question of the rally came from a child in the audience and asked who would be the starting pitcher for opening day.
"I don't know," Hernandez said. "In the end it's Jim's call. He's a great manager and a great leader."