By Ashley Dunkak
LAKELAND, FLA. - The Detroit Tigers held their first full squad workout of spring training Tuesday. The team re-signed reliever Joba Chamberlain (sans his infamous beard), and pitching coach Jeff Jones and new starting pitcher Shane Greene reflected positively on Greene's improving changeup. Below are a few other items of note from Tuesday.
Just as they did in 2014, the Tigers are tackling some base running drills early, Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said after the team's workout. The coaches have been talking with players about running from home to first and what they need to do once they reach first. In the coming days, they will talk about second base and third base as well.
"We want to kind of force the issue with the defense, want to go first to third, second to home, force them to have to make the play, be aggressive," Ausmus said. "However, there's going to be a little bit more stress put on, 'Be aggressive, but let's not be idiotic.' Know the outs, know the score, know who's coming up next, especially with our lineup. But yes, I still believe in always looking to get the next base, get yourself 90 feet closer to home plate and your goal once you reach first base is to cross home plate."
The organization announced in November the hiring of legendary Tigers shortstop Alan Trammell as a special assistant to general manager Dave Dombrowski. Ausmus elaborated Tuesday on what will be the extent of Trammell's involvement.
"Initially he's going to be working with the infielders," Ausmus said. "But he can - I told him he's free to get involved with anything he wants, so he'll be in any discussions that involve personnel, strategy, et cetera, but he'll be on the field unlike - Al Kaline and Willie Horton are special assistants, although Al Kaline was in uniform today, I guess. But Tram will be in uniform every day, basically. He'll be on the field."
To beard or not to beard
Dombrowski, Ausmus and veteran reliever Joe Nathan said it surprised them that it took so long for Chamberlain to get signed. Chamberlain, one of the team's steadiest relievers in 2014, sported a massive beard throughout the season. Ausmus invoked the pitcher's facial hair when I asked Ausmus why he thought Chamberlain had not been picked up more quickly.
"Probably the beard," Ausmus said with a straight face.
Chamberlain arrived clean-shaven to spring training Tuesday, and he said the beard will not be coming back.
"We're definitely going to keep it a little bit restrained from what it was last year," Chamberlain said with a laugh. "That was a lot of growth. It won't get [to] that, trust me."
The pitcher noted his teammates have picked up the slack in the beard department.
"I've seen a couple people I was like, 'I shaved it off and you guys gained it,' so I guess that's how it works," Chamberlain said. "I walked by a couple people they didn't recognize who I was."
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