Hard-headed or Old Fashioned: Protective Hats in Baseball

It seems more and more frequently that pitchers in baseball are being struck in the head by line drives. From Brandon McCarthy last season to Carlos Carrasco of the Cleveland Indians last night, pitchers have been brutally injured by these comeback line drives, prompting some to call for protection for pitchers.

The most common idea: a protective, kevlar cap. Prototypes have been released and some pitchers have even adopted the new gear. A recent MLB report stated that this season, six new pitchers have adopted the padded hats.

Early versions of the cap looked big, bulky, and inhibiting. They weren’t well received by players or MLB staff, but some still opted for the extra padding.

Alex Torres, then of the San Diego Padres, was one of the first to adopt the kevlar protective caps

Newer versions of the padded hats aren’t gigantic and are much more functional. Hector Noesi of the Chicago White Sox is one of the new converts to the padded caps, but chose a much slimmer, more traditional looking version.

Hector Noesi of the Chicago White Sox wearing his padded cap

While eventually these caps may become the league standard, for now, they’re prototypes. Something for players to use at their discretion to make themselves, their family’s and their fans feel safer. But as pitchers continue to take liners in the head and suffer serious injuries, so will the call for protective caps. Coming as hard and fast as a Miguel Cabrera shot up the middle.

What We Learned From Opening Day

With Opening Day 2015 in the books and the Tigers standing at an astounding 1-0, it’s important to remember that there’s 161 games left in the season.

Screw it, WHAT DID WE LEARN FROM ONE GAME?

1. David Price is really, really good.

David Price pitchingPrice hurled a gem in his first Opening Day Start for the Tigers, coming up an out short of the complete game shutout. He proved he’s the top-of-the-rotation guy that the Tigers thought they acquired in last season’s trade.

2. J.D. Martinez is still a beast.

J.D.’s first at-bat yesterday was something to behold: a monster opposite field bomb to kick off the scoring for the Tigers. He looks to be a staple in the fifth spot in the lineup and should have another monster year.

3. Yoenis is good at the baseball.

So Yoenis Cespedes not only has a dragon for a car, but he also doesn’t like to hit singles…he’s too busy hitting extra base hits. Cespedes had a double and a triple in his Tigers debut yesterday. Oh, and this:

4. Joe Nathan is un-hittable now!

Alright, we all know this is a bit premature, BUT HE STRUCK OUT TORII HUNTER TO END THE GAME. HE’S BACK! OH THANK GOD HE’S BACK!

Alright, he’s probably not back, but a guy can dream, right?

Yeah, maybe it’s a little early to be making predictions, but one thing’s for sure from yesterday: this Tigers team is still fun to watch.

Brad Ausmus: the Man, the Myth, the Manager

As Brad Ausmus enters his second season at the helm of the Detroit Tigers, it’s almost impossible to look past the lofty expectations before him. A lineup loaded with talent, fire breathing Lamborghinis, and a possibly still concussed Alex Avila, runs should be coming faster than me to a fresh Guinness (let me tell you, that’s fast).

Ausmus had a relatively successful first season, leading the Tigers to an AL Central title before bottoming out in the playoffs. Thanks in part to his more aggressive strategy (and movie star good looks), the Tigers managed to steal more bases last season than the previous two seasons combined. J.D. Martinez also joined the team, sucked down some of Michael Jordan’s “Secret Stuff” and became a hitting machine to complement Victor Martinez and Miguel Cabrera. Oh, and the Tigers acquired David Price (and his dog Astro) to bolster their rotation in the middle of the season.

David Price and Astro

Brad definitely has some work ahead of him, though. The Tigers’ bullpen is more screwed up than your friend on their 21st birthday, and lineup anchors Cabrera and Victor Martinez are both coming off of offseason surgery. The Dartmouth graduate seems up to the task though, taking challenges in stride, joining Twitter (I still can’t believe it), and slyly smirking when asked a dumb question in an interview.

This season will probably be make-or-break for Ausmus with the Tigers. If he can bring home another AL Central title and a playoff run, he should be sitting pretty. If not, Alan Trammel will have a new friend on the list of short-term Tigers’ managers.

Who’s On First? What’s On Sec…Oh Wait, That’s Ian Kinsler

Remember, remember the 20th of November.

That fateful night, the Detroit Tigers and the Texas Rangers swapped key cogs in their respective lineups, hoping these would be the final pieces to championship lineups. The Rangers sent second baseman Ian Kinsler to the Tigers for slugger (and Chevrolet’s best singer) Prince Fielder…oh, and $30 million.

Courtesy of Getty Images

The trade had mixed effects in its first season. Fielder was injured early and missed the remainder of the season for the Rangers, while Kinsler’s first half of the season was hotter than John Stamos on Full House.

Kinsler’s second half of the season was down, but his presence was always felt. He did everything the Tigers needed out of their second baseman: great defense, swiping bases, and keeping healthy. He was exactly what the Tigers needed.

With the 2015 season kicking off in six days, Kinsler is ready for another big year wearing the old English “D.” Joined by returning shortstop Jose Iglesias, the tandem is expected to be one of the best fielding duos in the majors. Kinsler’s bat is expected to remain potent, too, hitting in a lineup that features Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez, the resurgent J.D. Martinez, and newly acquired Yoenis Cespedes. He’ll likely hit in front of those behemoths, meaning if he gets on base, he’ll be scoring a ton of runs.

Kinsler’s first year with the Tigers was a success. He hit. He fielded. He led. This year is a new chapter, but we should expect more of the same from the Tigers’ second baseman.

J.D. Martinez and the Marvelous, Absolutely Amazing, Ridiculous Turnaround

Just over a year ago today, the Houston Astros cut struggling outfielder J.D. Martinez. The once promising prospect was struggling at the plate, underachieving, and had mega-prospect George Springer breathing down his neck. He was 27, a career .250 hitter, and was seeking a fresh opportunity.

The Detroit Tigers jumped on the outfielder.

The Tigers had gaps the size of Andre the Giant in their outfield and were looking for someone to hit, occasionally field, and stay healthy. After failed experiments with names like Jacques Jones (this trade alone sends chills down my spine), Casper Wells (traded, but now back in the Tigers’ organization), and sending Avisail Garcia to the Chicago White Sox after an apparent *cough* problem *cough,* taking a flyer on Martinez was a perfectly logical move.

Martinez started in Triple-A Toledo, and with a slight tweak to his swing, absolutely RAKED, begging the Tigers to call him up to the show with 10 homers in 17 games with the Mud Hens. When they did, he was ready. Martinez finished the 2014 season hitting .315 with 23 home runs and 76 RBIs, easily career highs. Some guys named Victor and Miguel did sort of overshadow him a bit, though.

J.D. MartinezWith the 2015 season knocking on the door, Martinez is expected to be a key contributor in the Tigers’ lineup. He’s expected to hit in the fifth spot, right behind Victor Martinez and ahead of newly-acquired Yoenis Cespedes, creating a gauntlet that any pitcher would whimper at.

Can J.D. duplicate his insane success from last season? Only time will tell.

Who is Shane Greene?

This offseason was an interesting one for the Detroit Tigers. It saw familiar face Torii Hunter head back to Minnesota. It saw Cy Young winner and the owner of what may be the coolest eyes in the world, Max Scherzer, find a treasure chest in Washington with the Nationals. It also saw Yoenis Cespedes and his fire-breathing Lamborghini arrive in Detroit.

But one move didn’t quite get the fanfare that the others did: the trade for pitcher Shane Greene.

Now, you’re probably asking yourself, who the hell is Shane Greene? Well, he might just be the next staple in the Tigers’ rotation. Young, ready, and filthy, Greene was acquired for pitcher Robbie Ray and infielder Domingo Leyba.

Green’s slotted to be the fifth man in the Tigers’ rotation, but don’t expect him to pitch like the fifth starter. He throws five pitches, one of which being his two-seam fastball that has hitters in stitches, and has seen his control steadily improve all spring. His best stuff came out during his March 18 start against the Pittsburgh Pirates, which had Pirates’ hitters flailing like blind wombats (yes, blind wombats) and Greene’s change up and two-seamer.

The kid’s good. He’s tall, experienced, and I’m willing to bet his favorite movie is something awesome, like Billy Madison or the Hunt for Red October. Rumor also has it that he used to have a chinchilla for a pet, and that’s pretty awesome as well.

So there you have it. The Tigers’ newest starter and possible future ace, Shane Greene, ladies and gentlemen.

Spring is in the Ballpark

The boys of summer are back…kind of.

With Spring Training games kicking off this week, the familiar crack of the bat, the sound of a baseball smacking the glove, and possibly a horrific rendition of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” baseball has returned. Familiar names won’t see much action, though, as prospects and non-roster invites work their way into the action, vying for an elusive spot on the 25-man roster.

Courtesy of “A View From My Seat”

Familiar faces flooded in Joker Marchant Stadium in Lakeland, Florida as the Detroit Tigers reported for camp. Miguel Cabrera, Justin Verlander and other headliners are ready to bounce back from an early exit from last year’s playoffs. This year, they’re joined by newly acquired Yoenis Cespedes, hurlers Alfredo Simon and Shane Greene, and the return of Jose Iglesias. You remember Iglesias, right? He’s the guy who can do things like this:

This year’s team will have a different look, a plethora of new faces, especially in the bullpen, and a Brad Ausmus that’s now on Twitter (yeah, I couldn’t believe it either). Joba Chamberlain was even brought back, but apparently his beard was not, and that’s just upsetting for beard-lovers everywhere.

Courtesy of the NY PostT

Even though some things have changed for the Tigers, fans can rejoice. Miguel Cabrera is back to raking at the plate. Justin Verlander is back to avoiding Kate Upton questions and is dialing in his curve ball. Jim Leyland is still wandering around the park enjoying a nice Marlboro Red cigarette.
Baseball is back, ladies and gentlemen.