Avila: 'Continuity can be a big plus for us'

Tigers GM satisfied with offseason, composition of roster

Avila: 'Continuity can be a big plus for us'

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Putting a twist on the focus of Presidents Day, MLB.com is catching up with club presidents to discuss the start of Spring Training and the dawn of a new season. The Tigers don't have a team president, but Al Avila fills a similar role in his position as executive vice president of baseball operations and general manager.

Avila talked recently as part of Grapefruit League Media Day at Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium. Here are three main messages that came out of his remarks:

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Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Pelfrey, Sanchez not giving way to youth

Veterans fighting for rotation spots

Pelfrey, Sanchez not giving way to youth

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Mike Pelfrey cut out as much sugar as he could from his diet and lost 25 pounds off his 6-foot-7 frame. He hopes to lose at least 5 more by the time Spring Training ends.

"I had like five or six birthdays in the wife's family, so cake was always around," Pelfrey said. "Too many parties."

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Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Verlander benefits from showdown with Miggy

Verlander benefits from showdown with Miggy

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Miguel Cabrera sounded like a heavyweight fighter as he lurked behind the batting cage on one of the back fields at Tigertown on Sunday.

"Get ready, Verlander," he shouted toward the end. "Get ready."

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Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Healthy V-Mart grinding to make mark

Healthy V-Mart grinding to make mark

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Now that the news is out, Victor Martinez can discuss the hernia injury he played through last year.

It happened around midseason, he said. And it was rough.

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Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Miggy motivated to win for Venezuela, Ilitch

Cabrera arrives at Tigers camp with heavy heart

Miggy motivated to win for Venezuela, Ilitch

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Miguel Cabrera added boxing to his training routine this offseason on the advice of Venezuelan boxer Jorge Linares. As Cabrera begins his 10th season with the Tigers, he has two motivations to fight for victories this year.

This spring, he wants to help Venezuela win a World Baseball Classic title for his troubled homeland.

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Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Leather man: Romine brings 8 gloves to camp

Leather man: Romine brings 8 gloves to camp

LAKELAND, Fla. -- The Tigers' new Spring Training clubhouse at Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium was designed after consultation with the clubhouse crew on what players typically need. Nobody consulted with Andrew Romine about locker storage.

Most players keep a glove or two on the shelf atop the locker that was designed for it. Romine crammed four into that space, and that's just half the total he brought to camp.

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Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Kelly rejoins Tigers as instructor, scout

Kelly rejoins Tigers as instructor, scout

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Don Kelly reached folk-hero status in Detroit as a super-utility player, becoming a postseason hero during the Tigers' run of four consecutive division titles. It's only appropriate that his post-playing career would begin in a similar role.

When Kelly trotted onto the back fields at Tigertown in uniform, the 37-year-old sparked speculation that he might make one more try at his old job. However, his playing days are over. Instead, he has joined the Tigers, his original organization, as a pro scout and player development assistant.

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Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Healthy Mahtook jumping into center-field competition

Healthy Mahtook jumping into center-field competition

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Tigers outfielder Mikie Mahtook hopes an offseason trade provides him with a new opportunity, but he will have to make an impression in the spring to stand out in a crowded outfield.

Mahtook, the 31st overall pick of the 2011 Draft, looked like he would be part of the Rays' outfield after hitting .295 with nine home runs and 19 RBIs in 41 games in 2015.

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Corey Long is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

'Explosive' training highlights Fulmer's routine

'Explosive' training highlights Fulmer's routine

LAKELAND, Fla. -- After earning American League Rookie of the Year Award honors in 2016, it's hard to believe that Tigers pitcher Michael Fulmer would change much of anything during his offseason. But the 23-year-old right-hander altered some of his training methods in the hopes of adding more strength and explosive movement to his lower body.

Fulmer, who is listed at 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds, said his trainer wanted him to focus more on posterior chain training that will strengthen his legs, hamstrings, hips, calves, back and other related areas.

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Corey Long is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Martinez hoping to regain Gold Glove form

Martinez hoping to regain Gold Glove form

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Tigers right fielder J.D. Martinez does not want a replay of his defensive struggles from 2016.

Martinez, who was an American League Gold Glove Award finalist in 2015, ranked last among right fielders with a minus-22 rating in defensive runs saved, according to Baseball Reference. He recorded six errors in 118 games last season. His .971 fielding percentage was the lowest of his six-year career.

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Corey Lang is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Horton stood for peace in tough times for Detroit

Former Tigers great was proactive when riots broke out in 1967

Horton stood for peace in tough times for Detroit

DETROIT -- Willie Horton has a day in his honor every Oct. 18, his birthday, having been honored by the state of Michigan. For the city of Detroit, however, his more significant day arguably happened 50 years ago this summer, after he left the field at Tiger Stadium.

"Maybe, that was the night I embraced my community for the first time as an adult," Horton said 37 years later in his biography written by Kevin Allen.

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Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Commissioner: Ilitch was 'best of baseball'

Manfred speaks kindly of late owner, says Tigers are in good hands

Commissioner: Ilitch was 'best of baseball'

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred voiced his excitement about the future of Spring Training baseball in Florida after touring the Tigers' renovated complex at Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium. He also took a moment to reflect on the late Mike Ilitch, the owner who molded the Tigers into a successful franchise.

"Mr. Ilitch was the best of baseball in the sense that he was a pillar of the community in Detroit," Manfred said Thursday during Grapefruit League Media Day festivities. "He used the club as a centerpiece to redevelop Detroit. He was a true sportsman. Nobody wanted to win more than Mike did, and his death was a real loss for the game."

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Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Fulmer looks to make strides after ROY effort

Classic-bound right-hander more relaxed than he was last spring

Fulmer looks to make strides after ROY effort

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Michael Fulmer wasn't expecting a call from Team USA as the buildup to the World Baseball Classic began over the winter. He laughed and shook his head when he was asked about it Tuesday.

"I got a text message from Joe Torre out of the blue," Fulmer recalled. "He says, 'Hey, would you be interested in making a start for Team USA in the WBC?' I said, 'Joe Torre. That's weird.' I'm out grocery shopping and I got a text message from Joe Torre."

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Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Tigers owner Ilitch passes away at 87

Tigers owner Ilitch passes away at 87

DETROIT -- The man behind the Tigers' turnaround from American League also-ran to two-time AL champion has passed. Mike Ilitch, the longtime team owner whose investment of financial might into the team 13 years ago spearheaded his quest for a World Series title, died Friday at age 87.

The son of Macedonian immigrants, a former Tigers Minor League player-turned-businessman, owner and arguably franchise savior, Ilitch lived an incredible rise, all in the city of Detroit. 

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Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Detroit says goodbye to Ilitch at Fox Theatre

Quote from late Tigers owner: 'The city is like a family member to me'

Detroit says goodbye to Ilitch at Fox Theatre

DETROIT -- On a windy and cold Wednesday, Detroit said goodbye to Tigers owner and local legend Mike Ilitch, who died Friday at age 87. Inside the main room of the Fox Theatre, shared memories and stories helped dull the sadness felt by the Ilitch family and the local community.

Elsewhere, Tigers players are engaged in Spring Training, and the Red Wings now wear commemorative "Mr. I" patches, with the home arena ice bearing the same "Mr. I" tribute. But their thoughts are with the Ilitch family. So, too, are those of the residents, who poured into the Fox for one last farewell.

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Catherine Slonksnis is a contributor to MLB.com based in Detroit. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

K-Rod feels good about Tigers' chances

Veteran closer eager to pitch in Classic, lead team on playoff run

K-Rod feels good about Tigers' chances

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Francisco Rodriguez was fashionably late to Spring Training. Now that he's here, he's focused on getting off to a good start early.

Though Rodriguez missed a couple days of workouts, it makes little practical difference in his preparation. He reported to his first Tigers camp last year on Feb. 25 and got in his usual spring workload and game action. He has his routine, and he doesn't need a full spring to do it.

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Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Verlander reflects on Ilitch: 'He was like family'

Right-hander honors Tigers owner, says he's skipping WBC '17 to focus on maintaining health

Verlander reflects on Ilitch: 'He was like family'

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Justin Verlander has been a career-long Detroit Tiger thanks to Mike Ilitch. As the team mourns Ilitch's passing, Verlander will never forget that fact.

Ilitch's willingness to spend aggressively in the Draft allowed the Tigers to select Verlander with the second overall selection in 2004, after the Padres passed on the right-hander. As Verlander emerged as Ilitch's homegrown star, the owner stepped up twice to sign him to long-term contracts, including his current deal that runs through 2019. 

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Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Tigers in awe of upgraded spring facility

Tigers in awe of upgraded spring facility

LAKELAND, Fla. -- The new speaker system at Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium was testing out music as the media took a tour of the renovated ballpark. As the tour was wrapping up, somebody played Europe's "The Final Countdown."

Credit the scoreboard and construction crews for a sense of humor as they continue to work.

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Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Jimenez knows his time with Tigers will come

Prospect impresses during first bullpen session of camp

Jimenez knows his time with Tigers will come

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Joe Jimenez is direct.

As the Tigers relief prospect took one of the bullpen mounds at Tigertown for his first official bullpen session of this Spring Training, he wasn't trying to win a job in mid-February. But he wasn't taking it easy, firing fastballs to catcher James McCann. Even at less than game speed, he was popping the mitt.

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Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Residents, fans pay tribute to Tigers' Ilitch

Owner inspired generosity throughout Detroit

Residents, fans pay tribute to Tigers' Ilitch

DETROIT -- Not two hours after the temporary memorial for Mike Ilitch opened at 1 p.m. ET on Monday, the wall dedicated for notes outside Comerica Park already was one-third full. Employees of the Tigers, Red Wings, Little Caesars, and members of the community stopped by to pay their respects and share memories about how Ilitch affected an entire city.

"[I have great memories] of him helping the city when other people wouldn't," Tanya, a lifelong Detroit sports fan, said. "I think he's always been gracious and has done a lot more for the city than other folks."

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Catherine Slonksnis is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

McCann ready to take next step with glove

Tigers catcher to use spring to work on pitch framing

McCann ready to take next step with glove

LAKELAND, Fla. -- James McCann enters his third full Major League season earning a well-deserved reputation as one of the better young defensive catchers in the American League, reflected when he became a Gold Glove finalist last year. He knows what he needs to do to take the next step.

McCann, 26, spent his offseason making his body frame smaller. He will spend Spring Training trying to make his pitchers' strike zone bigger.

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Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Tigers report to camp with Ilitch in thoughts

Alex Avila: Missing out on title for owner 'doesn't sit well'

Tigers report to camp with Ilitch in thoughts

LAKELAND, Fla. -- The sunny skies and warm temperatures made for a good atmosphere as Tigers pitchers and catchers filed into camp Monday morning. Even though formal workouts don't begin until Tuesday morning, many spent Monday on the field, including manager Brad Ausmus, checking out batting practice from the position players who arrived early.

Even so, there's a shadow over the Tigers complex beyond the palm trees in the sun. As Detroit mourns the loss of Tigers owner Mike Ilitch, the sentiment is felt here, more than a thousand miles away.

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Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Tigers vets enter spring eyeing one more run

Detroit looks to compete in 2017 while also looking to the future

Tigers vets enter spring eyeing one more run

With Spring Training fast approaching, MLB.com will take a look at a different aspect of this year's Tigers squad each day this week. Today's topic: Spring Training is here.

DETROIT -- The Tigers begin what could be their last run at a playoff spot for their current core. For Ian Kinsler, J.D. Martinez, Francisco Rodriguez and possibly others, the push begins now.

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Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Tigers players remember owner Ilitch

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Tigers players remember owner Ilitch

Tigers owner Mike Ilitch passed away at the age of 87 on Friday, the team announced Friday night. Former and current members of the Tigers organization began offering their condolences to his family and remembering the man who turned the Tigers into the team that won four straight AL Central titles from 2011 to 2014.

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Tigers' roster leaves little to be decided in spring

With most major roles settled, center field the lone lineup battle

Tigers' roster leaves little to be decided in spring

With Spring Training fast approaching, MLB.com takes a look at a different aspect of this year's Tigers squad each day this week. Today's topic: Predicting the 25-man roster.

DETROIT -- Considering how few moves the Tigers made this offseason, the vast majority of their 25-man roster is fairly easy to predict with holdovers from last year. The lineup is set aside from a wide-open competition in center field. The back end of the rotation needs to be sorted out with seven starters for five spots, but performance down the stretch last year should give some indication. The last spots in the bullpen are an annual battle, but the major roles appear largely settled.

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Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.