Spring training '21: New year, but COVID-19 protocols remain
FILE - In this Feb. 18, 2014, file photo, Atlanta Braves batting helmets sits on the field under a shining sun during a spring training baseball workout in Kissimmee, Fla. Major League Baseball revamped its spring training exhibition schedule because of the pandemic, cutting travel for Florida-based teams in an effort to avoid the novel coronavirus, the league announced Friday, Feb. 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)NEW YORK – Completing the 2020 season required MLB to rewrite its rule book. Offers by MLB to delay opening day were rejected by the players' association last month, defaulting the league into an on-time start. The Grapefruit League schedule was reworked to limit travel, and clubs won’t play exhibitions against local colleges — usually a spring staple. MLB has claimed billions in losses after playing the 2020 season almost entirely without fans, and free agents were met by a sluggish market this winter.
Fresh off suspension, Hinch takes over as Tigers manager
FILE - In this Oct. 15, 2019, file photo, Houston Astros manager AJ Hinch (14) reaches for a ball before Game 3 of baseball's American League Championship Series against the New York Yankees in New York. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum, File)DETROIT – As he waited out his suspension this year, AJ Hinch knew he wanted to return to baseball. It was Detroit general manager Al Avila, telling Hinch to get on a plane. In January, Major League Baseball suspended Hinch and Astros GM Jeff Luhnow for the season and the Astros immediately fired both. Hinch is 570-452 as a major league manager.
LEADING OFF: Marlins, Pads advance, all Division Series set
San Diego Padres pose for a photo after defeating the St. Louis Cardinals 4-0 in Game 3 of a National League wild-card baseball series Friday, Oct. 2, 2020, in San Diego. First-year San Diego manager Jayce Tingler used nine pitchers, the most employed in a nine-inning shutout in any big league game since 1901. Next up is the Division Series, and all four matchups are intradivision -- AL West vs. NL West and AL East vs. NL East. New York hasn’t visited the San Diego ballpark since 2016. Detroit general manager Al Avila says the team isn’t ruling out the possibility of hiring Hinch or Cora for its managerial vacancy.
Avila says Tigers aren't ruling out Hinch, Cora for manager
DETROIT – Tigers general manager Al Avila said Friday that Detroit is not ruling out the possibility of hiring A.J. Hinch or Alex Cora for its manager vacancy. Hinch and Cora were suspended through the 2020 postseason for their roles in the Houston Astros' sign-stealing scandal. The Astros fired Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow on Jan. 13 and Cora lost his job managing the Boston Red Sox the following day.. Cora spent the 2017 season as bench coach on Hinch's staff with Houston. Avila said it is important that the next manager be able to help with talent evaluation, since there are important decisions to make throughout the roster.
LEADING OFF: Ailing players heal up, Yanks back in Cleveland
Minnesota has a couple of ailing hitters in third baseman Josh Donaldson (right calf) and center fielder Byron Buxton (mild concussion symptoms). Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said Buxton is improving and the team hopes he’ll be ready for the postseason opener. Brett Phillips exited Sunday’s game with right hamstring tightness, and fellow outfielder Manuel Margot (sore foot) was scratched from the lineup. Acuña was scratched Sunday with renewed irritation in his left wrist. Because of the reworked schedule caused by the virus outbreak, the Yankees didn’t play in Cleveland this year.
LEADING OFF: Verlander set for TJ, Bumgarner seeks 1st win
The reigning AL Cy Young Award winner says he needs Tommy John surgery, likely putting him out of action through all of next year. “I tried as hard as I could to come back and play this season,” Verlander said. “Unfortunately, my body just didn’t cooperate.”The Astros hold the eighth and final spot in the AL playoff race. Verlander went 21-6 with a 2.58 ERA last year, striking out a career-high 300 and throwing his third no-hitter. His top competitors are likely two-time defending winner Jacob deGrom of the Mets, Atlanta’s Max Fried and Cincinnati’s Trevor Bauer.
Tigers manager Gardenhire announces immediate retirement
A Comerica Park videoboard displays a thank you message to Detroit Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire, who announced his retirement prior to a baseball game against the Cleveland Indians, Saturday, Sept. 19, 2020, in Detroit. This year was taking more of a toll on the 62-year-old Detroit Tigers manager than he'd necessarily let on. General manager Al Avila said he made a routine visit to Gardenhire’s office Saturday, when the manager told him about the decision. “On behalf of all of us with the Detroit Tigers, congratulations to Ron Gardenhire on a tremendous managerial career,” Tigers CEO Christopher Ilitch said in a statement. “Always, you'll miss baseball,” Gardenhire said.
Indians beat Tigers for 20th straight time, Reyes hits 2 HRs
Cleveland Indians center fielder Delino DeShields greets teammates after their 8-5 over the Detroit Tigers in a baseball game, Sunday, Aug. 16, 2020, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)DETROIT The Cleveland Indians beat Detroit for the 20th straight time, nearing the major league record for most wins by a team over a single opponent, as Franmil Reyes hit two home runs to defeat the Tigers 8-5 Sunday. The Indians can match the record when they host Detroit in a three-game series next weekend. An ensuing argument earned Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire an ejection, the first of his season and 85th of his career. TRAINERS ROOMIndians: Reyes was hit by a pitch from Joe Jimenez with one out in the ninth.
MLB looks to shorter doubleheaders to ease scheduling chaos
(AP Photo/Paul Sancya)The Detroit Tigers and Cincinnati Reds were the first teams to try out baseballs new time-saving measure a doubleheader with seven-inning games. By the end of the night Sunday, 12 teams had played 10 games, but six had played seven or fewer. Making doubleheader games seven innings long can help, at least in theory. You can use your bullpen a lot different, earlier in the game and try to get through that part. But last year, there were only 33 doubleheaders total, and the New York Yankees led the way with seven.
7-inning doubleheaders debut in MLB, Reds sweep Tigers
(AP Photo/Paul Sancya)DETROIT Trevor Bauer made short work of the Detroit Tigers, capping Major League Baseball's first seven-inning doubleheader with a shutout. We've had a tough time in these first ten days, and we've especially struggled against Detroit, Bell said. Bauer wasn't confirmed as the starter for the second game until he arrived at the park. At one point in the first game, Cincinnati starter Anthony DeSclafani forgot the teams were only playing seven innings. Tigers: Detroit has Monday off, then is scheduled to host four games in three days against the St. Louis Cardinals.
Robles works out with Nats, Tigers tab Boyd opening starter
The defending World Series champion Washington Nationals are happy to have their starting center fielder finally in camp and the Detroit Tigers have named their opening day starter. Teams around the league were beginning to make their final preparations Sunday for the start of the abbreviated baseball season. It was definitely very difficult, the fact that I really wasnt able to work much on my swing, Robles said through an interpreter. Pitcher Anthony Bass said Sunday the players have told general manager Ross Atkins theyd prefer to play in a big league stadium if possible. So have Milwaukee first baseman Logan Morrison, Cincinnati pitcher Nate Jones, Tampa Bay pitcher Aaron Loup and New York Yankees pitcher Luis Aviln.
Giants return, so do some players, but Padres' INF Mateo out
San Diego announced last week that outfielder Tommy Pham tested positive for coronavirus and was asymptomatic. The Giants, meanwhile, resumed workouts at Oracle Park after receiving test results from Saturday, all of which were negative for players and staff. The only Texas players still not cleared to participate are right fielder Joey Gallo and left-hander Brett Martin, both of whom tested positive for coronavirus. Also, Indians outfielder Delino DeShields Jr., who tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, is traveling to Cleveland after he had one negative test. Theres nothing that we can do about it.The Cubs have thus far avoided any positive tests, a development outfielder Kyle Schwarber insists cannot be attributed to mere luck.
Baseball scrambles back into action amid lingering concerns
As baseball scrambles to start an abbreviated season, the prevailing mood is one of nervous excitement. All of these issues could become moot if there's a major outbreak of the virus within baseball. "Ive seen the reports in Houston how COVIDs going up so Im going to have to really be careful. It will be unusual following new safety protocols that are at times incompatible with human nature on the baseball field. Theyre very focused on that and the staff thats going to be associated with the games once we fire up, Crane said.