Detroit Tigers’ Willi Castro HRs win 10-2 at the start of the Grapefruit League

LAKELAND, Fla. – Willi Castro wants to make his mark on the everyday shortstop job the Detroit Tigers have entrusted him with this season. He hopes to stay here but it is imperative that he shows that last season was no accident.

The 23-year-old got off to a strong start to the year, starting a 458-foot home run in the first official spot he has seen since September last year. The Tigers exploded for six runs in the first inning and won the Grapefruit League opener at Joker Marchant Stadium 10-2 against the Philadelphia Phillies on Sunday.

The game lasted seven innings.

“The first inning, the quality of the bat game, was exceptional,” said manager AJ Hinch. “Truly top to bottom, the entire inning, whether it was drawing walks, hitting the ball hard, RBI opportunity. There’s a lot to get out of that first inning.”

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Left-handed Tyler Alexander, the starter of the Tigers, gave Adam Haseley (86.4 mph cutter) a second home run in the first inning but settled down. He allowed two runs in two innings with three hits, zero walks and a strikeout.

Alexander used 30 spaces (22 strokes).

“Hoping to maybe get a starting role,” said Alexander. “The leadoff guy hits a homer with a cutter that I left a bit and I gave up another double with a 2-0 slider. Other than that, I found my off-speed was pretty good. My biggest goal was that I wanted to. ” Come out and attack early, go ahead of the boys with my fastball. “

The Tigers travel to Tampa on Monday to compete against the New York Yankees at 1:05 p.m. Right-handed Kyle Funkhouser starts. On the other hand, the Detroit bats meet right-handed Gerrit Cole, a three-time all-star.

Inning ends, fans boo

After 27 pitches from Nova and 23 more from Jonathan Hennigan – resulting in five combined runs and six allowed runs – Phillies manager Joe Girardi finished the first inning despite the Tigers loading the bases with two outs.

The crowd booed the Phillies when they came off the field.

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Castro’s mistake

The biggest worry about Castro staying at shortstop is his defense. One side of the debate is that he needs more experience to develop. (He only has 66 games in parts of two seasons.) On the other hand, this dilemma explains that Castro fits much better on the second base, where his arm accuracy is not tested as severely.

In the upper part of the third area, Castro moved to his left and attempted a backhand strike at the second baseman, Harold Castro, who covered the base in the center. But Harold wasn’t ready for Willis Flip and assumed he would throw to first base. The miscommunication resulted in an error.

Catchers start strong

Three of the four catchers who fought for the backup job played: Grayson Greiner, Dustin Garneau and Eric Haase. Each of them racked up a hit, with Haase hitting a home run in the sixth inning and Greiner adding a walk.

Jake Rogers is the other catcher in the competition.

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This is how the Tigers started the game: Willi Castro (SS), Jeimer Candelario (3B), Christin Stewart (LF), Wilson Ramos (DH), Harold Castro (2B), JaCoby Jones (CF), Akil Baddoo (RF), Daniel Pinero (1B) and Dustin Garneau (C).

Pinero started because the team doesn’t have another first baseman, considering that Hinch Candelario wants to keep Candelario on third base for the time being. The team’s number one, Spencer Torkelson, would have played first or third base in this game – had he not cut his finger last week.

Another first base option, Miguel Cabrera, didn’t play. His workload, especially in the spring games, is closely monitored.

Five players from the mini-camp portion of spring training were activated for Sunday’s game: right-handers Nolan Blackwood, Drew Carlton, Robbie Ross Jr. and Logan Shore, and catcher Brady Policelli.

The Tigers used six pitchers: Alexander, Derek Holland, Alex Lange, Ian Krol, Ross Jr., and Carlton. NEW: After Alexander allowed the only two runs, the helpers stopped the Phillies from one hit and two walks the rest of the way.

Playing perspectives

The first line-up change took place in the second inning, when Haase replaced Ramos as a prize runner. Two of the team’s prospects – outfielder Riley Greene and second baseman Kody Clemens – stepped into the later innings.

Greene swung a 95.8 mph fastball from Enyel De Los Santos in his first stroke of the spring and ended up in sixth on an outfield player’s pick. Clemens took off JD Hammer’s glove in his only bat.

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Welcome back fans

Tiger fans sit in their social distance boxes during Sunday's action against the Phillies.

For the first time in 353 days – starting March 12, 2020 – the Tigers greeted fans to watch their team play baseball. Tickets went on sale on February 18 with a limited capacity of 2,000 fans per game and sold out within three hours.

“It was definitely very nice, a nice change,” said Stewart. “It was comforting to know that people are out there and still coming to games. It was a completely different atmosphere.”

Evan Petzold is a sports reporter for the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold.

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