The Detroit Tigers are on the verge of Spring Training, and for the first time in a while, the expectations for the season are officially on the bottom end. There won’t be a “one last shot” at a World Series, much less realistically competing for a divisional title or playoff spot.
New Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire is fully aware of this, but has a message of positivity for the fans as the Tigers host their annual Winter Caravan.
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“Every ballclub in baseball has been through ups and downs. The one thing that I’ve said all along is: Yes, we’re in a rebuild,” he said. “When I took this job I knew this coming in — we were going to move people, and we’re still maybe not done. But the thing that you have here is a bunch of guys that have been a little battle tested from last year, that are hungry.”
Gone are the days of Detroit’s massive Yankees-esque payroll, and gone are stars J.D. Martinez, Justin Upton, Justin Verlander and Ian Kinsler, all dealt as part of the rebuilding process. Gardenhire, however, refuses to categorize the year as just laying down and letting other teams beat up on them.
“We’re going to prepare these guys to come and do battle,” he said. “How it goes, we don’t know, but we’re going to prepare to beat people. That’s the only way you know how. Yes, we’re going to rebuild this organization, but we’ve got a good start with some very talented people.”
The Tigers will begin their exhibition schedule when they host the Florida Southern College Moccasins on February 22 in Lakeland, Florida. Grapefruit League play will begin the 24th against the Toronto Blue Jays.