The Michigan Daily - Thursday, April 8, 2004 -!YA
2004 TIGERS ROARING INTO OPENING DAY
By Ryan Sosin
Daily Sports Writer
The Detroit Tigers have their home opener at 2:05 p.m.
today against the Minnesota Twins. With a 3-0 start so far;
things seem to be looking up for the Tigers. Detroit Free
Press Sports Writer and Tigers beat writer John Lowe
shared his insights on the new era of Tigers baseball:
The Michigan Daily: What effect will catcher Pudge
Rodriguez have on the pitching staff?
John Lowe: Number one, anybody that has a slow move
to the plate won't have to worry anymore. (Jason) Johnson
and (Jeremy) Bonderman allowed the most stolen bases of
any AL pitchers last year. Even if they don't improve their
pickoff moves, there won't be as many people running on
From talking to the Marlins, and learning the impact
Rodriguez had on them last year, I think it's his attitude and
his leadership and his experience. He's not reluctant in the
least to take charge of the pitching staff; to cajole, encour-
age, scold, reprimand, inspire and whatever he thinks is nec-
TMD: Aside from Pudge, which newcomer will put up
the biggest numbers?
JL: I think shortstop Carlos Guillen is going to have a
nice year. I think this is a good ballpark for him. I think he's
been an underrated player because he's been on a team with
a lot of other good players in Seattle. I think his steadiness
is going to be impressive. Does that mean he will have bet-
ter home run/RBI? I don't know. But I would be surprised if
he bats ninth all season. I think he's got some appeal higher
in the order.
TMD: Can outfielder Bobby Higginson regain his old
form or is he just riding out his contract?
JL: I don't think he's riding out the contract. I think he
cares too much for that. He did a lot of work in the offsea-
son to get healthier.
This is a very public business. You just can't go into hid-
ing and say, 'I'm going to earn my money.' The players
know their fans are watching them, their peers are watching
them, the stats are watching them and the history books are
Some things are better for Bobby. He doesn't have to feel
like he's the only big guy around anymore. He's hitting a lit-
tle down in the order. I know he's looking forward to watch-
ing Ivan Rodriguez everyday - he said he's even looking
forward to watching him in 'attng .practice. Bobby feels it's
no coincidence that te beMt y ar he hdwas the year he was
teammates with Juan Gonzalez in 20. He said Gonzalez
was the best hitter hp'1 ever played with. H said just watch-
ing him take battingpractice was an education.
I would not count Bobby out yet.
TMD: Is this the year that first baseman Carlos Pena and
third baseman Eric Munson break out?
JL: Pena - tha ' probably a better question than for
Munson, because he has more experience than Munson.
Peia's got a new batting stance. He did some impressive
things in Spring Training. Munson had a rough spring
defensively. His hitting finally started to come toward the
end. But of course, Spring Training is Spring Training. As I
was saying with Higginson, it's got to help those two guys
that they have a lot of veteran examples to watch now and
that they don't have to feel like they are carrying as much as
TMD: Will relief pitcher Matt Anderson ever be back in
JL: I would be surprised. He's in the last year of his con-
tract. He, if anything, went backwards this spring from the
way he was pitching in Toledo toward the end of last year. I
will be more surprised if we do see him than if we don't see
TMD: Will the outfielder Cody Ross for relief pitcher
Steve Colyer trade come back to bite the Tigers if an out-
fielder gets hurt?
JL: They did need bullpen help. The previous Dodger
regime was very high on (Colyer) and turned down stronger
offers for him, I am told. There's a general feeling in base-
ball that it's easier to find a hitter than to find a pitcher. But
every trade is a risk. If it's a risk free trade, than that proba-
bly means you didn't get anything out of it.
TMD: Will Rule 5 pick outfielder Chris Shelton be on Ohe
team at the end of the year? /
JL: That would be very .nic, but it's hard to see how that
will happen right now if they feel the need to go with 12
pitchers (once closer Ugueth Urbina returns from Lake-
land). Because the other bench spots seem more essential
than Mr. Shelton. Of course, there is ways to juggle, waysi=to
finagle. I think they'd like him to be here all year, but keep
in mind he barely made the Opening Day team. It went right
down to the wire with him and (infielder Mike) DiFelice.
TMD: .500? Top in the Central? Where will the Tigers
JL: Keep in mind that .500 would be an improvement of
38 games. Just roll that around for a minute. So, that would
be an amazing, amazing upgrade to have 38 more wins. But,
the Central was the weakest division last year, and it looks
to be weaker overall right now than it did at the end of last
year. Especially with the pitching that Minnesota lost ...
If there was ever a place for the miracle of 119 losses tq a
division title, it is certainly in this division with the overall
weakness of the division and that you play so many games
within the division. Almost half the Tigers games are
against teams in the Central.
Director of Grounds Heather Nabozny paints the first base line
of Comerica Park yesterday in preparation for Opening Day.
Netters know how to travel in style
By Matt Singer
Daily Sports Writer
This weekend, the Michigan men's tennis team will pack its
bags and hop on the bus, traveling to the Hoosier State for back-
to-back matches against Indiana State and Indiana. The Wolver-
ines (1-3 Big Ten, 10-5 overall) are already experienced
travelers, having spent three weekends away from Ann Arbor
this season. Unlike the boys from "Road Trip," Michigan travels
"We're going to do things first class," Michigan coach Mark
No cramped school bus for these athletes - the Wolverines
will make the five-and-a-half hour drive to Terre Haute in a spa-
cious charter bus. Because the buses are equipped with multiple
TV screens, movies are a natural way to pass the time. But not
everyone is happy with the selection of films.
"I didn't approve of our movies last time," freshman Steve
Peretz said. " 'Anger Management' - I thought we could get a
little more creative than that. 'Bringing Down the House' -
unacceptable. Then 'Scary Movie 2' - which is not 'Scary
Movie 3' - and everyone's seen it about 100 times."
Whether or not the movie choices are satisfactory, the trips
are normally a bonding experience for the tight-knit group. Each
trip features a team dinner, which allows the group to get togeth-
er and enjoy good food while planning strategy for the upcom-
"It gets us in the right mindset," Peretz said. "And it's a good
chance to get away from dorm food for me, (fellow freshmen)
Brian (Hung) and Ryan (Heller)."
Although the trips are mostly business, the Wolverines occa-
sionally find the time to enjoy the unique aspects of their host
cities. On its last road trip to State College, Michigan sampled
the ice cream at the Penn State Creamery - and managed to
avoid serious heart trouble.
"Their ice cream is so high in fat content that it's not even
FDA approved," Peretz said. "It was really good."
The road trips have their fun moments, but tennis is the
Wolverines' main focus. They make sure to arrive the day before
the match in order to get a feel for the new playing surface.
"Anytime you go on the road, it's a little tougher to get used to
the court speed and the different facilities," Mees said.
On Friday, Michigan will take on Indiana State (5-11) in a
nonconference match-up. As soon as that match concludes, the
Wolverines will make the one-hour trip to Bloomington for a
crucial Saturday contest against the Hoosiers (2-2, 8-8). The
Wolverines have been on a roller coaster ride the last few
weeks, and they will have to bring their "A" game to take out
Indiana on the road.
"Indiana's going to be very good," Mees said. "They've got
some good depth right down the lineup. It's going to be a tough,
Continued from Page 8A,
Some additional thoughts about fantasy: Why doesn't
it focus more on helping a team instead of individual
stats? Where's the sacrifice bunt/sacrifice fly category?
What about diving catches or home runs robbed? Yahgo
actually offers those sacrifice categories, but I've never
heard of anyone actually using them. For the other stats,
maybe someone at Yahoo will read this column.
As much as fantasy baseball gets on my nerves, there
are some outside factors that make rooting hardcore for
your fantasy team excusable. If you've got a ton of
money riding on your fantasy league, then you have a
right to take it seriously. And if you follow a team in real
life that's going to be in last for most of the season, then
go ahead and enjoy your fantasy season.
If you're a casual owner who realizes how crazy
some people can get, try not to let yourself get that
way. And even if you're a fantasy owner that's fuming
mad after reading this (probably because you're one gf
those guys I just described), and you just can't get away
from the game, then keep playing. But do me, and
everyone else, a favor. Stop driving us all crazy talking
about your WHIP.
Daniel Bremmer is proud to announce that he is in zero
fantasy baseball leagues this season. He can be reached at
Freshman Steve Peretz is hoping for better cinema on
the team bus during this weekend's road trip.