Potent Tigers lineup could join 900 Club
FEB 21, 2013 2:27p ET
Having Omar Infante that low and Torii Hunter that high gives Detroit the makings of its first 900-run team since the 1934-37 Tigers did it four years in a row and went to the World Series twice.
The Tigers scored a team-record 958 runs with a 1934 team that featured four future Hall of Famers batting between second (Charlie Gehringer) and sixth (Hank Greenberg); Mickey Cochrane hit third and Goose Goslin hit cleanup on Opening Day. Each of those players except Cochrane reached 100 RBI, and leadoff hitter Billy Rogell also knocked in 100.
The batting order Tigers manager Jim Leyland said he will write down on the lineup card most days in 2013 will read this way:
1. Austin Jackson, CF
2. Torii Hunter, RF
3. Miguel Cabrera, 3B
4. Prince Fielder, 1B
5. Victor Martinez, DH
6. Andy Dirks, LF
7. Jhonny Peralta, SS
8. Alex Avila, C
9. Omar Infante, 2B
Hunter has made 80 percent of his 7,887 plate appearances batting between third and sixth for the Twins and Angels, but is thrilled to be batting after Jackson and before Cabrera.
“It’s so exciting,” Hunter said. “I used to hit 4-5-6, but now there are Cabrera, Fielder and Martinez behind me. I can hit and run all day, just love it.
"And it puts you in a different mindset. I don’t have to go for the fences all the time and can use all the athletic ability God blessed me with.”
Infante is a career .275 hitter and made the All-Star team in 2010, when he batted .324 for the Braves. He had 12 homers, 30 doubles and 53 RBI last year, splitting his time between the Marlins and Tigers. He came to Detroit in a July 23 trade.
He usually batted second through seventh for the Marlins.
“On this team I bat ninth and that is OK,” Infante said. “Peralta and Avila are pretty good hitters ahead of me.
"I know we have a lot of talent. I just want to be in the lineup.”
Detroit scored 726 runs last year and has a great opportunity to reach 800 for the first time since 2008. That was the team that some speculated would score 1,000 runs with Cabrera, Edgar Renteria and Jacque Jones joining Magglio Ordonez, Gary Sheffield, Ivan Rodriguez, Placido Polanco, Carlos Guillen and Brandon Inge — the No. 9 hitter on Opening Day.
But Jones and Renteria fizzled, and so did the team, which still scored 821 runs.
The Tigers will leave several regulars in Lakeland on Friday, when they open the Grapefruit League season against the Atlanta Braves in Lake Buena Vista.
Rick Porcello is the starting pitcher, and Tigers manager Jim Leyland said this will be his batting order: Quintin Berry (CF), Infante, Cabrera, Fielder, Martinez, Peralta, Brayan Pena (C), Avisail Garcia (RF) and Nick Castellanos (LF).
The Braves will start right-hander Tim Hudson with left-hander Paul Maholm following him to the mound.
Tigers outfielder Brennan Boesch said he hit off the tee Thursday for the first time since he began experiencing problems with his oblique muscle last weekend.
“It felt good hitting,” Boesch said. “I’m running well, too.”
Boesch is battling for a roster spot, but said he's not “rushing it.” That’s smart because obliques can be tricky and he can’t afford another setback.
“Boesch is getting close,” Leyland said.
TAKING IT SLOW
Max Scherzer was the lone rotation pitcher not to throw batting practice before the games begin.
Leyland said he’s going a little slower than normal with Justin Verlander, who threw batting practice Wednesday, and Scherzer because both pitched a lot of innings in 2012.
“Scherzer will throw one more side (bullpen session) and then throw batting practice,” Leyland said. “I’ve got him pitching in a game on March 2.”
Detroit will play host to the Pirates, who signed long-time Tiger Brandon Inge to a minor-league contract, that day in a split-squad game. The Tigers will send half of their roster to Tampa to play the New York Yankees, but Leyland said Scherzer likely will pitch in Lakeland.
Dan Dickerson and Jim Price will broadcast every Grapefruit League game on the Tigers’ radio network (WXYT-AM 1270 or WXYT-FM 97.1 in Detroit) with the exception of one split-squad game in Tampa with the Yankees.
Dickerson said they did about a dozen games in each of the last six years, but Price said “interest in the Tigers is so high” that it caused the increase to 37 games.
“Hey,” said Tigers infielder Ramon Santiago, having fun with Dickerson, “you’re 'Everyday Dan' now.”
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