3/10/2014 5:45 P.M. ET
Scherzer used to dealing with Tigers' hot bats
Offense produces two big innings in Monday's victory over Cardinals
By Jason Beck / MLB.com
JUPITER, Fla. -- Max Scherzer led the Majors in run support among starting pitchers last year. It figures, then, that the biggest offensive outburst the Tigers have enjoyed all spring came with Scherzer on the mound.
Like so many times in 2013, Scherzer waited through a long inning on the bench as his offense piled up runs in a seven-run third and five-run fourth in Monday's 17-5 win over the Cardinals, then came back out to the mound like he had only been sitting for a couple minutes.
"I had to do that a lot last year," Scherzer said. "I got so much run support, there's times that they were scoring five, seven runs in an inning. There were times last year, I wasn't efficient at that, at the long layoffs and doing a good job of coming back out.
"It's easier to do it in warm weather. It's a lot more difficult to do it in cold weather. That's one thing I found. But the other thing, you really have to take your warmup pitches seriously. You really have to loosen your arm back up. You have to get the tempo going in your delivery. There's a lot of things going on in those warmup pitches."
Scherzer pulled that off with a mix of pitches, including a nasty curveball he unleashed on left-handed hitters. His breaking ball registered at 74 mph on the Roger Dean Stadium radar gun to send down Jon Jay swinging to strand two runners in the fourth, and he threw another at 72 to retire Matt Holliday leading off the fifth.
Four of Scherzer's five strikeouts came against left-handed hitters.
"There's only a few times I'm actually pitching for a strikeout," Scherzer said, "but it was nice to be able to get a couple times through the lineup. I was able to sequence them differently, and I felt my curveball was very good today. That's probably why I was able to get some of those swing-and-misses when I needed to.
"I have a fastball. I've got a great changeup. When I have a good curveball, it makes me an even better pitcher."
Ausmus continues to size up bullpen options
JUPITER, Fla. -- The Tigers received another solid inning of relief from Ian Krol on Sunday. The club sent a procession of lefty relievers to the mound on Monday against the Cardinals with solid results, from Blaine Hardy to Casey Crosby and then Kyle Lobstein. They'll have Phil Coke on schedule to pitch back in Lakeland on Tuesday against the Blue Jays.
However, manager Brad Ausmus cautioned on Monday that he's not married to the idea of a two-lefty bullpen.
"I do think it helps. I think it's a benefit," Ausmus said. "But you have to put your best team and your best bullpen in the stadium when the season starts."
Crosby, who missed the early Spring Training action with tendinitis in his forearm, made his spring debut with two-thirds of an inning on Monday, walking one and striking out one. His fastball ranged from 89 to 91 mph on the ballpark radar gun, while he mixed his curveball with a changeup that has improved from last year.
"I felt comfortable," Crosby said. "It was good to get back out there finally. Obviously, I kind of joined the party late, but it feels good out there."
The fact that Crosby is competing as a reliever now, rather than a starter like he was in past springs, gives him a better chance of catching up to his counterparts. It's not a major adjustment for him.
"I feel a lot more comfortable doing the short-inning stuff," Crosby said, "not really thinking, more just going. Just go pitch and let it go. That's what I'm most comfortable doing, I feel like."
Iglesias still working toward return to action
JUPITER, Fla. -- Tigers shortstop Jose Iglesias continues to work out back at the Tigertown complex in Lakeland as he tries to work past the soreness in his shins that has cost him a week and a half of action.
Iglesias took ground balls and threw on Sunday, manager Brad Ausmus said, but he did not run. Ausmus was waiting for an update from Monday's workout.
The goal at this point is to get Iglesias back on the field with enough time to be ready for Opening Day, a goal Ausmus noted on Sunday is approaching.
Tigers reviewing setup for first replay game
JUPITER, Fla. -- The Tigers are scheduled for their first trial run at baseball's new replay review system on Wednesday against the Yankees in an MLB Network broadcast. The crew in charge of replay challenges for the Tigers, however, isn't going to be there.
While that game is going on, defensive coordinator Matt Martin -- who will be in charge of looking at replays and deciding whether to challenge calls -- will be in Kissimmee with members of the video crew to meet with Major League Baseball officials for instructions on how the system will work.
"I'd like to [try the system], so we'll try to work it out," Ausmus said on Monday morning.
It wasn't exactly good timing, but Detroit is going to have at least a handful more games this spring to test out the system. Moreover, the club been preparing for it on its own since the Spring Training schedule began.
The Tigers set up a video camera pointed towards first base to get a look at potential close plays they encounter. They've also had the video crew save footage of replay challenges from other teams to look at how the process is working and calculate what percentage of calls so far are being overturned.
Detroit has not instructed players to play any different on the field in anticipation of replay, other than to make sure they make contact on tag plays. Though Rays manager Joe Maddon made headlines last week when he talked about instructing players to play past the third out in case of an out call being reversed, manager Brad Ausmus said they're not going that far yet.
"We've discussed it internally," Ausmus said. "We're actually in the process of waiting to hear an answer on a couple of those things from instant replay officials. A couple of those points that Joe brings up are valid points, but ... I don't know how you can expect the player to get the fourth out. It's not baseball nature to get the fourth out.
"We want to get answers to some of those questions. We haven't gotten them yet. But when we get them, then we're going to have a discussion with the players about it. Because there are cases I think where you have to make the players aware of replay so that play doesn't stop. I just think that's a very tricky area, to punish the defense for an umpire's mistake."
• Andy Dirks underwent successfully microdiscectomy surgery on his back Monday in St. Petersburg, Fla. Dirks, who was diagnosed with a back problem a week ago following continued back pain, will be sidelined for 12 weeks, including three weeks in which he can't do any physical activity beyond walking.
• Tigers owner Mike Ilitch and his wife Marian issued a statement on Sunday night on the passing of Detroit Lions owner William Clay Ford: "We are saddened by the passing of William Clay Ford, Sr. and extend our condolences to the entire Ford family, the Ford Motor Company, the Lions organization and all of his employees. He led with a memorable blend of class, dignity and unwavering commitment to our community and his legacy will always be a source of pride for our city, state and nation."
• The Tigers' three home runs on Monday doubled their total for the Grapefruit League season. They hit four homers on their two-day trip to Jupiter after previously ranking last in the Majors in homers.