Tigers talk lockout, excitement for season

‘Contrary to NCAA Tournament, this is our month’

Local 4 was at spring training.

LAKELAND, Fla. – It’s great to see images of our Detroit Tigers back on the field at spring training in Florida.

During the 99-day lockout, people didn’t know if there would be any baseball this year, and of course, the players felt that uncertainty too.

Detroit Tigers outfielder Robbie Grossman said he is very excited that baseball is back in full swing.

“I’m very excited (that baseball is back),” Grossman said. “I just missed my teammates; I missed my coaching staff; I missed the interaction of being around all the guys every day.”

Here is an interview with Detroit Tigers outfielder Robbie Grossman at spring training in Lakeland, Florida, on March 16, 2022.

“We’re so excited,” Tigers pitcher Michael Fulmer said. “We’ve got a group chat with 30 of us in it, and once the lockout ended, everybody was texting in the group and excited to get down to Florida to see each other again. I’ve been down here for about four days now, and (I) feel like we picked up just where we left off last season.”

Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Michael Fulmer delivers against the Cleveland Indians during the first inning of a baseball game, Friday, Aug. 21, 2020, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Both Grossman and Fulmer say the negotiation between the Major League Baseball Players Association and the league was worth it for many reasons.

The players said they were united throughout the process.

“Absolutely,” Fulmer said. “These guys stood back and had each others back. Everybody was just fighting for that younger generation of guys.”

Now that all of that stuff is behind them, it’s about looking ahead for these new-look Tigers. Manager Aj Hinch says this is his March Madness.

“This time of year feels like baseball is supposed to be ramping up,” said Hinch. “Contrary to the NCAA Tournament, but this is our month to prepare.”

Hinch said he not only wants to compete, but he wants to win the division.

Detroit Tigers manager A.J. Hinch watches from the dugout in the fifth inning of a baseball game against the Kansas City Royals, Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021, in Detroit. (The Associated Press 2021)

The Tigers will not only have to rely on their veterans, but they’ll have to rely on their young talent like Spencer Torkelson and Riley Green to blossom to achieve those goals.

The young guys said the veteran ballplayers had taken them under their wings.

“They treat me like son almost, said Tigers outfielder Riley Greene. “It’s awesome just having someone (Robbie Grossman) like that with a lot of knowledge, someone I can go to and ask questions whenever I need it.”

Here is an interview with Detroit Tigers prospect Riley Greene at spring training in Lakeland, Florida, on March 16, 2022.

Miguel Cabrera said the other day that he is fine being the designated hitter if it means Torkelson can play first base.

“Coming from a future hall of famer, that’s really special to hear him say,” said Torkelson. “I’m kind of taking that to heart and really trying to make him proud.”

Every man said Wednesday that its more about the team than the individual as they just want to win and make it back to the postseason.

“We really got a shot at this thing,” Torkelson said. “AJ said it in the first meeting that we’re going to go for the division. That’s our first goal, and then we’re going to go from there.”

Here is an interview with Detroit Tigers prospect Spencer Torkelson at spring training in Lakeland, Florida, on March 16, 2022.

Hinch said the 2021 season was about teaching his young team how to win, but this year is about teaching them to believe they can win and make a run in the postseason.

About the Authors:

Jamie anchors sports coverage on Local 4 News Saturdays at 6 & 11 p.m. and Sunday at 6 p.m., in addition to hosting Sports Final Edition.

Brandon Carr is a digital content producer for ClickOnDetroit and has been with WDIV Local 4 since November 2021. Brandon is the 2015 Solomon Kinloch Humanitarian award recipient for Community Service.