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A Visit to Tiger Stadium

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I’m in Detroit. The reason: my girlfriend Allison writes for Bless You Boys and this weekend is their annual meetup at Comerica Park.  Despite living only three hours from Comerica Park, I have never been there.

For years my avoiding it was done out of protest.  I grew up going to Tiger Stadium. I realize that progress marches on and I realize my attachment to Tiger Stadium was and is somewhat irrational on some level, but I considered the corner of Michigan and Trumbull to be an almost holy place, and it galled me that it could be abandoned and then destroyed like it was.

But that’s over. Everyone tells me Comerica Park is a worthy successor, and tonight I will experience it for myself. And tomorrow and Sunday too. But before I do that, I had to make one last visit to Tiger Stadium. I did this morning:

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If Tiger Stadium doesn’t officially exist anymore, Ernie Harwell Park is a perfect name for what’s left.

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The old gate is still there, as well as some post-destruction fencing.  But there’s no lock on the gate — at least there wasn’t today — and we let ourselves in.

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A home plate, the mound, a rubber and the basepaths are there. People come and take care of the infield from time to time.

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Someone brought some benches in too for pickup games.

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Our friend Kat and her dad — also displaced Michiganders and Tigers fans — joined us. Her dad thought to bring a ball, glove and a bat so we could take some bp and toss the ball around some.  This is Allison rubbing up the ball with some Tiger Stadium dirt.

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The bat: an Al Kaline model, which Kat’s dad said was an actual game-used bat. It certainly looked it.  We asked him if he seriously wanted to use it to fart around with and he said “Sure. If it’s gonna break anywhere, why not here?”  Couldn’t argue with that.  I took some hacks. Every single one was a grounder to short. I just pretended that I was giving Alan Trammell infield practice.

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The glove I actually own and have had since I was a teenager is a Lance Parrish model catcher’s glove. I stupidly left it at home. Kat’s dad is a lefty, so I did my best catching him with his lefty glove. Mixed results.

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I pitched too. I look like Aurelio Lopez.  Probably need to get back on the treadmill.

It was fun. It was sad. It was necessary.  I guess I can let it go now and go to Comerica tonight with a clean conscience.

 

Orioles are eying Welington Castillo as their primary catcher target

BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 25: Welington Castillo #7 of the Arizona Diamondbacks warms up prior to taking an at bat against the Baltimore Orioles in the second inning at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 25, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Matt Hazlett/Getty Images)
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A report from the Baltimore Sun’s Dan Connolly suggests that free agent catcher Welington Castillo currently tops the Orioles’ list of potential backstop targets for the 2017 season. With Matt Wieters on the market, the Orioles lack a suitable platoon partner for Caleb Joseph behind the dish, and Connolly adds that the club has been discussing a multi-year deal with Castillo’s representatives since the Winter Meetings.

Castillo batted .264/.322/.423 with the Diamondbacks in 2016, racking up 14 home runs and driving in a career-high 68 RBI in 457 PA. His bat provides much of his upside, and Connolly quoted an anonymous National League scout who believes that the 29-year-old’s defensive profile has fallen short of his potential in recent years.

For better or worse, both the Orioles and Castillo appear far from locking in a deal for 2017. Both the Rays and Braves have expressed interest in the veteran catcher during the past week, while the Orioles are reportedly considering Wieters, Nick Hundley and Chris Iannetta as alternatives behind the plate.

Report: Phillies agree to minor league deal with Daniel Nava

KANSAS CITY, MO - SEPTEMBER 12:  Daniel Nava #12 of the Kansas City Royals bats during the game against the Oakland Athletics at Kauffman Stadium on September 12, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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The Phillies reportedly signed veteran outfielder Daniel Nava to a minor league contract, according to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Nava began the season on a one-year contract with the Angels, during which he slashed .235/.309/.303 through 136 PA in the first half of 2016. He was flipped to the Royals in late August for a player to be named later and saw the remainder of his year go down the drain on an .091 average through 12 PA in Anaheim. After getting the boot from the Angels’ 40-man roster in November, the 33-year-old outfielder elected free agency.

Nava is expected to compete for a bench role on the Phillies’ roster in the spring. As it currently stands, the club’s projected 2017 outfield features Howie Kendrick and Odubel Herrera, with precious little depth behind them. Nava’s bat is underwhelming, but at the very least he offers the Phillies a warm body in left field and a potential platoon partner for one of their younger options, a la Tyler Goeddel or Roman Quinn.