All-Star reliever Aaron Crow wants spot in Royals’ rotation

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Aaron Crow made the All-Star team as a rookie and finished the year with a 2.76 ERA and 65 strikeouts in 62 innings, but now the Royals are giving the 25-year-old former first-round pick a chance to win a rotation spot in 2012 after he started in college and the minors.

Crow told Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star that he’s “comfortable” starting and is “going into spring training with the goal of making the rotation.”

As is the case with most young pitchers it makes sense to find out if Crow can thrive in a 200-inning role before locking him into a 70-inning role, but control problems could derail his attempts to become a top-of-the-rotation starter. He walked 3.5 batters per nine innings as a starter in the minors and issued 31 free passes in 62 innings as a reliever with the Royals,

Crow seems to recognize that, telling Dutton that “the biggest thing for a starter is to keep your pitch count low, pound the strike zone and get quick outs.” If he can effectively do that Crow certainly has the raw stuff and multi-pitch repertoire to succeed as a starter, but “pound the strike zone” seems easier said than done for a 25-year-old with a history of iffy control.

Matt Shepard to be the Tigers new full-time play-by-play guy

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Fox Sports Detroit has named Matt Shepard their new full-time play-by-play guy for Tigers games. Shepard will work with analysts Jack Morris and Kirk Gibson, who will split time.

This is the move in response to former longtime announcers Mario Impemba and Rod Allen getting suspended and later fired following an in-booth altercation in Chicago last September. The two of them, who weren’t exactly friends, reportedly fought over a chair, with conflicting reports of how serious the fight was. An anonymous witness said Allen put Impemba in a choke hold. Allen recently gave an interview in which he denied that and said it was only some pushing and shoving. Either way, it ended their 16-year team-up for Tigers games.

Shepard has worked for Fox Sports Detroit for nearly 20 years, doing fill-in play-by-play for the Tigers — he replaced Impemba for the last few weeks of last season — and for Detroit Pistons games. Gibson has been a part time analyst for the network for the past couple of seasons, splitting time with Allen. Morris has done Tigers, Blue Jays and Twins games over the years, sometimes even splitting time between the Twins and Tigers, which is rather unusual.

Shepard is pretty good at his job. While Tigers fans liked and were familiar with Impemba, there won’t be a falloff in quality. Gibson makes some good analytical points and has a surprisingly sharp and biting sense of humor about him, but his gruff and monotone delivery is not everyone’s cup of tea. You get used to it. Morris is not my cup of tea — he tends to do a lot of the “back in my day” stuff former players often do — but I’m pretty sure he could recite the dictionary on TV in Detroit and a lot of Tigers fans would tune in. Such is life.