LAKELAND, Fla. -- The big worry is that everything will be different. That somehow, that exhilirating run to the World Series will have changed the Tigers to the point that you wouldn't recognize them this spring.
Well, it's a little early to declare that there's nothing to worry about, but as the Tigers prepare for Friday's official opening of spring training, at least there's nothing obvious to worry about. There are at least the usual number of early arrivals, maybe even a few more, and on reporting day (which, to be honest, is one of the biggest misnomers in sport), the players in camp looked exactly the same as they always look.
Quite a few guys who are already in town took the day off today, because it's the last day off they'll have for a while. Everything starts up for the pitchers and catchers in the morning. They have to be in uniform by 9:15, and once the last physicals are done and Jim Leyland meets with the pitchers and then with the catchers, they should be on the field by about 10:15 for the morning stretch.
There will be more reporters than usual. Already there are a few TV crews in from Detroit, and already I've answered quite a few e-mails from reporters from around the country who plan to attend tomorrow. But for the most part, it looks like any other spring, and it sure seems like that's a good thing.
A few odds and ends from reporting day:
1. The big thing about reporting day is that no one is really expected to ``report'' on that day. The pitchers and catchers are supposed to be in uniform and ready to work out Friday morning, and the team doesn't really care when they actually arrive in town. A few guys were at Marchant Stadium to work out this morning, and a few others came by to unpack bags and set up their lockers, but it's not like anyone was ``checking in'' to camp.
2. Does anyone look different? Well, Mike Maroth has a new haircut. He cut it short, almost a buzz cut. Said he just got tired of the way his hair was before, and wanted to try something different. On a more important note, Maroth said he feels fully healthy and sees no reason why he won't be part of the starting rotation come opening day.
3. Justin Verlander lived in Lakeland this winter, so he's been around for a while. But the 2006 AL Rookie of the Year seemed even more ready to get going than most of his teammates. He admitted today that his arm really wore down at the end of last year, and said he was especially proud of his Game 5 performance in the World Series because ``I was pretty tired that game, and I gave our team a chance to win.''
4. Al Kaline is here, of course. The thing about Kaline is that he never looks out of place in the clubhouse. I'm not going to tell you he looks like he could still play, but he doesn't look 72, either. And he is 72. You can look it up. He's also a very proud grandfather right now. Colin Kaline is a good enough baseball player at Birmingham Groves that he has signed a scholarship offer from Florida Southern College. So get ready for that Tigers-FSC exhibition next spring, when Kaline will be playing against the Tigers.
That's it for today. Check back every day, because as I've done each of the last couple of springs, I'll provide daily updates from spring training.
http://www.mlive.com/tigers/weblog/inde ... tml#238098
Good to see that Danny Knobler will be back with his daily Spring Training updates this season.