Monday, March 1, 2021 • George M. Steinbrenner Field, Tampa, FL • 1:05 p.m. ET
RHP Kyle Funkhouser (No Record) vs. RHP Gerrit Cole (No Record)
TV: YES Network and MLB.tv (MLB Network re-air at 8pm) • Radio: 1270 AM
YESTERDAY’S RESULT: The Tigers defeated Philadelphia in yesterday’s Grapefruit League opener, 10-2. Detroit felt a power surge from its first batter of the game, when Willi Castro blasted a 458-foot home run, and finished the contest 1×3 with a pair of RBI. Though the team scored 10 times, Jeimer Candelario was the only Tiger with multiple hits, going 2×2 with a double and walk. Daniel Pinero and Eric Haase also contributed homers in the victory. Tyler Alexander picked up the win after tossing 2.0 innings and allowing two earned runs on three hits and no walks, while striking out one. The bullpen combined to toss 5.0 innings of shutout action, in total allowing just one hit and two walks, while striking out eight.
CAN’T CONTAIN WILLI: Sending a ball 458-feet over the wall in right-center field to lead off yesterday’s game vs. Philadelphia, Willi Castro set a strong early tone for his spring season. Of the 337 home runs tracked by Statcast across all Spring Training games since the start of 2018, that blast ranks as the second-longest behind only Ryan McMahon’s 466-foot blast on March 18, 2019. Prior to yesterday’s contest, Castro’s longest Statcast-tracked home run in a game was a 445-foot shot at Cleveland on August 22, 2020.
GRAPEFRUIT LEAGUE WARRIORS: Getting off to a hot start with 10 runs scored and three homers in yesterday’s spring opener against Philadelphia, the Tigers continued their trend of swinging hot bats in Grapefruit League play. Last season, the team led the league in home runs (39), while ranking second in slugging percentage (.470) and third in batting average (.254), runs (119), total bases (342) and RBI (112). Individually, Miguel Cabrera was one of the league’s hottest hitters, leading all qualified hitters with a .333 (12×36) batting average and .611 slugging percentage.
PODS, PODS EVERYWHERE: An updated Spring Training schedule was recently announced by Major League Baseball, with health and safety considerations in mind. It features 29 games for the Tigers, including 15 contests at Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium. MLB divided the 15 Grapefruit League teams into pods based on their geographical location. The Tigers will be in a four-team pod with the New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies and Toronto Blue Jays, while also playing a smaller number of games against the Baltimore Orioles, Pittsburgh Pirates and Tampa Bay Rays during Spring Training.
ROSTER BREAKDOWN: The Tigers have 59 players in camp, including 19 non-roster invitees. Of the 59 players, 28 are pitchers, including seven non-roster invitees; six are catchers, including three non-roster invitees; 14 are infielders, including six non-roster invitees; and 11 are outfielders, including three non-roster invitees. This year’s camp has players from nine countries represented, including the United States, Canada, Colombia, Curaçao, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico and Venezuela.
HINCH IN THEIR STEP: A.J. Hinch is in currently managing his sixth season (2015-19, 21) in the Grapefruit League, over which he’s posted a combined 85-59 record and plus-85 run differential. During his time with Houston his clubs were helped to that success by stellar pitching performances, which have been some of the best in the Grapefruit League. Over that span, Hinch’s pitchers were tied for the second-highest strikeout total of any Grapefruit League team (1,351), allowed the second-fewest number of home runs (130) and combined to post the fourth-lowest ERA at 4.10 (1,380.1IP/629ER).
HISTORIC PROSPECT RANKING BY MLB PIPELINE: Righthanded pitchers Casey Mize (No. 11 overall/No. 2 RHP) and Matt Manning (25/6), lefthanded pitcher Tarik Skubal (24/2), infielder Spencer Torkelson (3/1 at 3B) and outfielder Riley Greene (21/6) were recently named to MLB Pipeline’s top 100 prospects. This marked the first time in MLB Pipeline history that a club had five of the game’s top 25 prospects.
SEVEN MINI-CAMP PLAYERS JOIN TIGERS FOR TODAY’S GAME: Catchers Cooper Johnson (#82) and Brady Policelli (#78), along with righthanded pitchers Ethan DeCaster (#98), Jason Foley (#93), Andrew Moore (#90), Wladimir Pinto (#86) and Logan Shore (#91), will join the Tigers for today’s game.