Staying healthy will be key for the Tigers in 2011

We
are less than a week away from the Detroit Tigers breaking camp and
heading up north. I am excited about this team and about the possibility
that they will make it to the playoffs this season. I stand with many
pundits who believe the 2011 Tigers have the talent to get them there
and go all the way to the World Series.

In
2010, the Tigers were riding high atop the Central prior to the All-Star
break. A number of injuries were cited as the reason for their
second-half slide. This year, the Tigers will begin the season without
Joel Zumaya and Carlos Guillen. Both players will be on the disabled
list (DL).

The
key to making this a successful year will rely heavily upon the health
of key players, such as Miguel Cabrera and Magglio Ordonez.

Of
course, keeping the position players off of the dreaded DL is important.
Keeping this pitching staff healthy, too, will be important.
Unfortunately, as you know, that isn’t an easy thing to accomplish.
Injuries happen. There is no way to prevent many of them from happening.
But I am saying that barring any mishaps on the field, or off, this
team will go far.

439x.jpg

A
couple of off-season moves will help to make that happen. The signing of
Victor Martinez added punch to a lineup that already boasts such heavy
hitters such as Miguel Cabrera and Magglio Ordonez. Definitely most fans
are expecting to see good things from Austin Jackson — at the plate
and in
center field. Brandon Inge will be back at third, and Jhonny Peralta
will be the Tiger’s shortstop. The position of second base was recently
filled by Will Ryhmes. You can expect that once Carlos Guillen is
healthy enough to return he will take over for Rhymes.

Justin
Verlander, Max Scherzer, and Rick Porcello are a group of starters to
be reckoned with. Each of them has good stuff. Phil Coke will begin the
season in the bullpen, although he is expected to be a part of the
rotation. I have been a fan of new Tiger’s pitcher Brad Penny. He has
great potential as long as he’s healthy (see, there’s that word again).
He can get a lot of wins. Jose Valverde is beginning the year healthy —
and happy. Jim Leyland has already made a comment that he will hold
Papa Grande to a pitch-count. No more high-pitch-count-marathons for
him! The Tigers also added Joaquin Benoit to their bullpen. He will be
the setup man for Valverde — which was the role we had hoped to see
Joel Zumaya in. No worries, Benoit can do the job.

Certainly,
as you can see, this is a Detroit Tigers team to be excited about. I am
also excited to share the 2011 season with you.

The
season officially starts at 1:05 p.m. ET on March 31 in New York against
the Yankees. The game will be televised nationally on ESPN. Then the
countdown to the home opener, April 8, 2011, will begin. That game
starts at 3:05 p.m. ET., which is a little later than usual, and that is
because of the previous night’s game against Baltimore. We want a
well-rested team to take the field that Friday afternoon. Don’t we? So, I
will take the later start — and hope the weather will be decent — at
least a few degrees warmer than the 38 degrees we saw last year on
opening day.

Be
sure to get downtown early to find a place to park, and mingle with
Tiger’s fans at a couple of the downtown bars and restaurants before the
game.

Comerica Park gates open at 12:30 p.m..

-Skip

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