Just about everyone in Detroit seems thrilled about the Prince Fielder signing despite plenty of room for concerns about his massive $214 million contract and how his arrival impacts the Tigers’ defense.
One person who definitely isn’t happy? Brandon Inge, who was slated to start at third base until Fielder’s presence pushed Miguel Cabrera across the diamond and sent Inge to the bench.
During the introductory press conference for Fielder yesterday manager Jim Leyland said he regretted Inge not finding out about the signing until after it happened and described him as “not the happiest camper.”
General manager Dave Dombrowski had similar thoughts, saying: “I can understand he wouldn’t be thrilled, but I also think at this point, probably the best thing for him to do–he’s not coming off a big year, the market is pretty well set–probably the best thing is to let him come to spring training, let him play well and let’s see what happens.”
In other words, Inge hit .197 last season, got demoted to Triple-A at one point, is 34 years old, and will make $5.5 million in 2012, so the happiness of that one particular camper shouldn’t really be a big factor for the Tigers right now. Detroit would gladly shed his salary if another team wanted Inge, but odds are that isn’t happening.
José Bautista hasn’t appeared in the majors since 2018 but the 39-year-old isn’t done playing just yet. Last month, we learned via a report from ESPN’s Jeff Passan that Bautista is hoping to come back as a two-way player. He spent the winter working out as a pitcher.
Bautista had also been working with former Blue Jays teammate Marcus Stroman. Back in January, Stroman tweeted, “My bro @JoeyBats19 is nasty on the mound. We been working working. All jokes aside, this man can pitch in a big league bullpen. I’ll put my word on it!”
In March, Passan added some details about Bautista, writing, “I’ve seen video of Jose Bautista throwing a bullpen session. Couldn’t tell the velocity, but one source said he can run his fastball up to 94. His slider had legitimate tilt — threw a short one and a bigger bender. @STR0 said in January he could pitch in a big league bullpen.” Stroman retweeted it, adding, “Facts!”
Stroman reiterated his feelings on Tuesday. He tweeted, “Since y’all thought I wasn’t being serious when I said it the first time…my bro @JoeyBats19could EASILY pitch in a big league bullpen. Easily. Sinker, slider, and changeup are MLB ready!” Stroman attached a video of Bautista throwing a slider, in which one can hear Stroman calling the pitch “nasty.”
Stroman attached another video of Bautista throwing a glove-side sinker:
Replying to a fan, Stroman said Bautista’s body “is in better shape than 90-95% of the league.”
I am not a scout and won’t pretend to be one after watching two low-resolution videos. And Stroman’s hype is likely partially one friend attempting to uplift another. That being said, I’ve seen much worse from position players attempting to pitch. It’s a long shot, especially given his age, that Bautista will ever pitch in the majors, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see him get an opportunity to pitch in front of major league scouts.