A great deal of focus has been placed on the ongoing salary debate between MLB and the MLBPA, but the health and safety protocol is the other key question that needs to be addressed. That’s particularly true regarding several older coaches, including Tigers skipper Ron Gardenhire, who is at greater risk than a number of his peers. “I’m 62 years old,” Gardenhire said in an appearance on the Power Alley show on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM (Twitter link, with audio). “I’ve had cancer, I’ve had blood sugar stuff. I’m prime — and I don’t want to be prime.”
To be clear, Gardenhire wasn’t suggesting an aversion to returning in 2020 — he joked “give me a walkie talkie” if that’s what it takes for him to manage games — but rather emphasizing the need for proper safety protocols throughout the game. The well-being of Gardenhire and other older coaches with previous health issues is an important piece to the return plan. Gardenhire, who is three years removed from surgery to address a Feb. 2017 prostate cancer diagnosis, acknowledged that he has concerns about a return but also expressed a great deal of appreciation for the thoroughness of safety guideline discussions so far.
A couple more notes on the Tigers…
- Right-hander Alex Wilson, who’d returned to the Tigers on a minor league deal this winter, finds himself in a state of limbo with the league’s stoppage, writes Chris McCosky of the Detroit News. The 33-year-old has been working to reinvent himself with a sidearm delivery in hopes of extending his career after a dismal 2019 season with the Brewers organization. “Being 33, I don’t know if anybody is going to give me another job if we wait all the way to next year,” Wilson said of the the uncertainty regarding the 2020 season. Should the league resume, he’d be in strong position given expanded rosters, the need for pitching depth and his recent focus on building up to be able to pitch multiple innings. He’ll turn 34 next winter, and while that may not seem too old to get another shot, Wilson settled for a minor league deal with the Indians in Feb. 2019 despite having had a strong 2018 campaign. It’s understandable, then, that he’s a bit apprehensive about his free agency outlook and very much hoping for a chance to prove himself this year.
- With the draft drawing closer, Arizona State first baseman Spencer Torkelson seems like the odds-on favorite to go to the Tigers at No. 1. One high-ranking member of the organization, Tigers pitching director and former USC head coach Dan Hubbs, got an up-close look at Torkelson in college baseball and came away highly impressed, as Jason Beck of MLB.com writes. Hubbs told Beck that Torkelson is “a special player,” adding, “I think there’s no question he can play first base, and he has enough power to play first base, because there isn’t any part of the park that’s safe.”