FLINT – Baseball spring training is a time for optimism, regardless of what has happened in the past.
Players and die-hard fans believe that maybe this is the year their team breaks through and does something special.
Nobody knows that better than Hall of Fame pitcher Jack Morris, who spent 18 years in the Major Leagues – the first 14 with the Detroit Tigers – in addition to working in the broadcast booth for the Tigers, Twins and Blue Jays.
Morris earned a reputation for calling things as he sees them so who better to ask about the 2023 outlook for the Tigers?
So what can Tigers fans expect?
“Spring is always a great time in the game,” Morris said Saturday at Foutch’s Strike Zone, where he took part in a fund-raiser for the Greater Flint Area Baseball & Softball Association. “Everybody is optimistic. Everybody thinks their team has a chance and that’s the way it should be.
“It appears to me the Tigers are going to give a lot of their younger players the opportunity to kind of take the next step and that’s the way it should be.
“I’m just hoping a few of them really break out and have the kind of season that people have been expecting and hearing about for quite a while. If that happens it’s going to be a lot of fun.”
The Tigers hired Scott Harris as their new general manager to oversee yet another rebuilding effort.
Players that Harris and the Tigers are hoping to see improvement from include first baseman Spencer Torkelson, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 draft; rookie infielder Ryan Kreidler; and second baseman Jonathan Schoop.
But ultimately, Morris said the Tigers’ success or failure is going to depend a lot on their pitching staff.
“It’s a tough business,” said Morris, 67. “It really is. If it was easy, everybody would win every year. What team wins every year? Pitching is such a critical part of that. As a former pitcher I know the value of that.
“But you need guys to catch the ball and score some runs in key situations. I think there’s a lot of talent there just like they’ve been preaching and talking about for a long time.
“There’s a lot of good young talent. They’ve got to break out and show they can become the stars of the game.”
That’s what helped the Tigers win their most recent World Series in 1984.
Players like Morris, Alan Trammell, Lou Whitaker, Lance Parrish and Dan Petry all came up through the ranks and matured into champions under Hall of Fame manager Sparky Anderson.
Morris, whose TV contract with the Tigers was not renewed this season, has been affiliated with the team since Detroit selected him in the fifth round of the 1976 Major League draft out of Brigham Young.
During his Tigers’ career, he helped the team win its first World Series since 1968, compiled a 198-150 record and pitched a no-hitter against the White Sox at the start of that magical ‘84 season.
Morris pitched 154 of his 175 complete games in 408 career starts with the Tigers.
He signed with the Minnesota Twins as a free agent in 1991 before signing with the Toronto Blue Jays as a free agent in 1993. He finished his career with the Cleveland Indians in 1994.
In addition to the 1984 World Series, Morris played on championship teams with the Twins in 1991 – he pitched a 10-inning, complete-game shutout in Game 7 – and won the Series with Toronto in 1992 and ‘93.
He was named the World Series MVP in 1991.
Morris and Trammell were inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Modern Baseball Era Committee in 2018.
Morris won’t be back in Tigers’ broadcast booth in 2023
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