Boone a winner in Yanks' spring training opener

Boone a winner in Yanks' spring training opener

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New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone wears a hat honoring the victims of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School as he watches batting practice before a spring training baseball game against the Detroit Tigers, Friday, Feb. 23, 2018, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Aaron Boone was a winner in his first game as a baseball manager at any level.

Hired to replace Joe Girardi in the New York dugout, Boone managed the Yankees to a 3-1 victory over the Detroit Tigers on Friday in their spring training opener.

Giancarlo Stanton played in the Yankees’ pinstripes for the first time since he was acquired from Miami in December. The major league home run champion and NL MVP walked and grounded into a double play.

AL home run champion and Rookie of the Year Aaron Judge hit on a back field and likely won’t play in an exhibition game until next week.

Ron Gardenhire managed Detroit for the first time after replacing Brad Ausmus.

More AP baseball:

Detroit Tigers lose to New York Yankees, 3-1, in Grapefruit League opener

Detroit Tigers lose to New York Yankees, 3-1, in Grapefruit League opener

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At George M. Steinbrenner Field, Tampa, Fla.

What happened: The Tigers lost to the Yankees, 3-1. … There were no injuries. …. Miguel Cabrera made his spring training debut, going 1-for-2 with a single. … Chad Huffman drove in the Tigers’ only run with an RBI single in the top of the first inning. … Left-hander Ryan Carpenter started and threw two scoreless innings. … In his debut game in a Yankees uniform, outfielder Giancarlo Stanton went 0-for-1 with a walk.


Starting off:Carpenter, a minor-league signee likely ticketed to Triple-A Toledo to begin the season, allowed one hit, walked one and struck out three. He threw 20-plus pitches in the first inning but was much more efficient in the second.

More on Tigers today: 

At the plate: Center fielder Leonys Martin opened the game with a single and scored. … Victor Reyes, the Tigers’ Rule 5 draft pick-up from the Diamondbacks, recorded an opposite-field single. Reyes has shown good opposite-field ability this spring. … Mike Gerber, who a veteran scout in attendance said improved markedly at the plate last season, hit a double.

On the mound: Johnny Barbato and Gerson Moreno each pitched an inning and walked two batters. … Warwick Saupold, thought to be a strong candidate for a bullpen spot, allowed a hit and a walk in a scoreless inning. … Prospect left-hander Austin Sodders allowed three runs on two hits and a walk in the bottom of the sixth inning.

In the field: Reyes showed he can cover some ground in right field, too, catching up with a long fly ball to the warning track.

Overseen:The Tigers and Yankees wore Stoneman-Douglas High School hats in honor of the victims of the tragic school shooting on Feb. 14.

Three stars: 1. Carpenter; 2. Martin; 3. Reyes

Up next: Saturday against the Blue Jays in Lakeland.

Contact Anthony Fenech: [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @anthonyfenech. Download our Tigers Xtra app for free on Apple and Android devices!


Carpenter impresses as Tigers drop spring opener

Carpenter impresses as Tigers drop spring opener


Chris McCosky checks in from Lakeland with Bob Wojnowski on the start of spring training, Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez, and more. The Detroit News

Tampa, Fla. — This is how cruel baseball can be for guys on the roster bubble.

Left-handed pitcher Ryan Carpenter, signed to a minor-league contract this off-season and in the fight for the fifth rotation spot, pitched two scoreless innings against a well-stocked Yankees lineup Friday in the Grapefruit League opener.

It was his first start in a big-league spring game and he allowed just one hit and a walk with three strikeouts in a game won by the Yankees 3-1.

“It was really good to get out there and get that first game under my belt,” the former Rockies farmhand said. “To make a start here against the Yankees, it was a lot of fun.”

Little did he know that during his outing, reports were circulating that the Tigers had signed veteran left-handed starter Francisco Liriano to a one-year, $4-million deal. The Tigers later confirmed the move. So Carpenter’s chances of making the big-league club out of spring training diminished significantly before he even threw a pitch.

And that is why players always say, just control what you can control. Carpenter did the only thing he could do Friday – pitch well.

“I was a little up early,” he said. “I couldn’t really get the ball down in the zone. But I thought I made a good adjustment going into the second inning and started to get my fastball down and the breaking pitches came around, as well.”

Carpenter features a deceptively firm fastball (91-92 mph) and a slow curve ball that he throws to right-handed hitters. But the pitch that has altered the trajectory of his career is a sweeping, 80-mph slider that he throws mostly to left-handers.

“I just started throwing it last year and I am still trying to get used to it, honestly,” he said. “But it’s gotten a little better, getting tighter.”

He left the game with a 1-0 lead.

Leonys Martin, who the Tigers hope can be their everyday centerfielder and leadoff hitter, created that run with his legs. He had an infield single to lead off the game and aggressively tagged and took second base on a long flyout to left by Nick Castellanos.

He scored on a two-out single by non-roster invitee Chad Huffman.

The run held up until the bottom of the sixth. The Yankees scored three times off Low-A prospect Austin Sodders. The big hit was a two-run single by catcher Jorge Saez.

More: Kid gloves coming off for Tigers’ Matt Manning


Miguel Cabrera served as the Tigers designated-hitter in his first action of the spring. He grounded out to third and singled to right field in his two at-bats.

It was also his first action against the Yankees since the brawl last August, which was ignited by his push-and-shove with Yankees catcher Austin Romine. Romine was behind the plate Friday.

There were no incidents, but clearly, Cabrera hasn’t forgotten.

“If they want to make something, they can make something,” he said. “I am not here to please everybody and be a nice guy.”

Asked if he said anything to Romine, Cabrera said, “I don’t have to say anything.”

Cabrera did about 30-minutes worth of conditioning after his two at-bats.

“It’s the first game, so it’s hard to say there is any difference (in how he feels at the plate),” he said. “In batting practice, yeah. I feel loose and have more movement…I’m just trying to be more calm at home plate and try to be more patient. Just wait for my pitch and try to put my best swing on it.”


Cabrera was where Yankees slugger Giancarlo Stanton was back in 2008. He was a young star for the Marlins and was traded to an American League power.

And Cabrera thinks the move will be just as beneficial for Stanton as it was for him.

“He’s going to have a great year,” Cabrera said. “I say to every hitter that goes from the National League to the American League. You are going to hit more in the American League because this league is more about hitting.”

That wasn’t a knock on American League pitching. Cabrera’s point was, pitchers have to face nine legitimate hitters in the American League – no pitching around the No. 8 hitter to get to the pitcher’s spot.

“That’s a big difference,” he said. “But for him, that team they have, the stadium they play in (home run friendly), the teams that they play in that division (small parks), it’s going to allow him to hit more home runs and hit for a higher average.”


The Tigers and Yankees wore caps with SD emblazoned on the front in honor of the victims of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.

All 30 teams will wear the caps for their first exhibition game.

“We all know what happened and it’s been really tough watching television and seeing all the sadness,” Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire said. “This is just a small example of what we all should be trying to do — make this world better and get rid of these guns (assault rifles) that are doing this.

“We’re trying to lift the people up and let them know we are thinking about them and how much are hearts are broken for them and their families.”

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Podcasts: Should Tigers trade pitcher Michael Fulmer?

Podcasts: Should Tigers trade pitcher Michael Fulmer?

Bob Wojnowski and Chris McCosky weigh the pros and cons of trading Michael Fulmer on The Detroit News Tigers’ podcast.

They also talk about potential comeback seasons for Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez, the new baseball pitching rules and Ron Gardenhire’s school of fundamental baseball.

To listen to our audio podcasts, just click on the links below and click play. Open iTunes to download and subscribe to podcasts.

Also below are other Detroit News Sports podcasts and check out Daniel Howes’ Weekly Essay on iTunes too.

Tigers: Should the Tigers trade pitcher Mike Fulmer?

► Pistons: Blake Griffin, the streaks, and the drive to the playoffs

► College basketball: MSU fallout, Oakland’s Kendick Nunn

Kid gloves coming off for Tigers' Matt Manning

Kid gloves coming off for Tigers' Matt Manning

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Lakeland, Fla. — Notice those innings logs from Matt Manning’s 2017 baseball season.

Inspect all 14 of his starts, from June 20 against the Tri-City Valley Cats, when he struck out six of his first seven batters, to Sept. 2, at West Michigan, when he pitched five innings against the Fort Wayne TinCaps, allowing a pair of hits while striking out nine and walking two.

What you see are flashes of a first-round draft pick’s sheer talent. What you also note is how little he has pitched. He threw only 51 innings last season and in only two of his starts did he pitch six innings.

The cameos had nothing to do with injuries. They had everything to do with the fact a man who last month turned 20 remains essentially a newcomer to competitive baseball.

Manning will work a good deal more in 2018, assuming his right arm, and 6-foot-6, 200-pound frame remain in the pink during a long season that for Manning probably will at least begin at West Michigan, the Tigers’ first-stage, full-season Single-A stop.

But he might not be at Comstock Park for long. He is expected to add crust and be ready, maybe by June or July, for shipment to Single-A Lakeland, not that the Tigers are hurrying him.

They took him ninth overall two years ago when his power arm, big body, and athleticism, which was broad enough to have earned a full-ride basketball ticket to Loyola Marymount, sold the Tigers on his potential as a top-of-the-rotation warrior.

They in fact loved the idea that his arm hadn’t already been showcased to death during his teen years. There was meager wear and tear. It spurred them to spend $3.5 million steering him to baseball and away from his Marymount scholarship.

The Tigers wagered there was room to work on finesse and on a future when Manning, a Californian and son of former NBA player, Rich Manning, had upside that to Detroit’s scouts seemed almost endless.

He sat in a conference room earlier this week at the Tigers’ year-old office complex at TigerTown, just beyond the right-field fence from Joker Marchant Stadium’s Publix Field, and conceded this has been, and probably will remain, a longer process than it sometimes is for most early-round picks.

But it doesn’t bother him. Not publicly, anyway. Because he learned a year ago how a deliberate path, with his pitching interests at heart, were the reason why he began the year at extended spring training in Lakeland, Florida, and not at West Michigan.

“Definitely,” said Manning, who is conversational but not overly verbose. “I think a lot of people thought it would be West Michigan. But it was my first full season of professional baseball. And it allowed me to work with people like Ace Adams (Connecticut pitching coach).”

More: Tigers reportedly sign veteran LHP Francisco Liriano

What you learn during a chat with Manning is that he is business-like and polite. Serious about his craft. Careful with his self-assessments.

He acknowledged at one point last summer that he was a bit bruised in sticking at the minor-league complex as other, more developed farm stars headed north. But he came to understand it.

His overall numbers from last season at Single-A Connecticut, where he was assigned in June, and for the Whitecaps confirm why, apart from being careful with his innings, so much development lay ahead: 3.18 ERA, 1.29 WHIP. He had a 1.89 in nine starts at Connecticut and a 5.60 ERA in his five games for West Michigan.

He walked 25 batters in 51 innings. He struck out 62.

His fastball, with pure intent, sometimes moved in the lower 90s rather than at the high 90s, velocity he can reach pretty much any time he prefers. But that ever-pursued level of proficiency known as “command” benefits when you’re focusing more on location than on the radar gun.

It was one of last season’s lessons, he said, along with instructions on how to throw a sinking two-seam heater that has begun to creep into his repertoire.

He will work this year on the two-seamer, but more on throwing his four-seam fastball to specific spots. He’ll also be buffing his curveball, which, he says, is more of a”1 to 7” breaking pitch, meaning he releases it and rotates it a tick to the side of a conventional 12-to-6 curve.

“The curveball was one of my biggest improvements last year,” Manning said. “I could throw it more early in counts, and late.”

Then there is that all-vital third pitch: his change-up.

“First live bullpen yesterday and I used it quite a bit,” he said. “The action was good. I want to get it down for strikes more often, but there’s been good action on it.”

It seemed fitting that Manning was sitting this week in a room that looked like every college-course class space devised by America’s educators.

This is an education, this big-league pitching pursuit. You take it one class year at a time. Manning isn’t yet thinking graduation. But his talent is talking. Comerica Park’s cap and gown await.

[email protected]

Detroit Tigers wear Stoneman-Douglas High School hats against Yankees

Detroit Tigers wear Stoneman-Douglas High School hats against Yankees


The Detroit Tigers started Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018, with individual pictures, followed by practice. First rounder pitcher Alex Faedo faced major-league hitters for the first time, too. Video by Kirthmon F. Dozier/DFP Wochit

TAMPA — The Detroit Tigers and New York Yankees — along with the rest of Major League Baseball — are honoring the victims of the school shooting at Stoneman-Douglas High School this week.

The Tigers and Yankees both wore Stoneman-Douglas caps during their Grapefruit League opener on Thursday afternoon.

All Major League teams had the option of wearing the hats during warm-ups or the game. The Tigers will only be wearing the hats for Thursday afternoon’s game.

More: Report: Detroit Tigers sign Francisco Liriano to one-year deal

New Era, the official on-field cap of Major League Baseball, produced more than 2,500 hats that will be worn. Individual teams have the option of auctioning them for benefit funds related to assisting the victims and families of the shooting on Feb. 14. Many are donating proceeds of the auctions to the Broward Education Foundation.

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Contact Anthony Fenech: [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @anthonyfenech.