Bass excited about potential homecoming

Tigers among teams interested in right-hander from Michigan

January 16th, 2017

DETROIT -- grew up in Trenton, Mich., and played college baseball at Wayne State University, where he trained for several winters before moving to Nashville this offseason so he and his wife could be close to her family. He still dreams of pitching one day for the Tigers.

"That would be cool," the right-hander said Saturday from his annual pitching camp at Wayne State. "I was talking with my wife about that. It would be cool to come here and eventually play for the team I grew up rooting for."

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As he wades through free agency this offseason, it might not be that far-fetched. If it were to happen this year, he will have gone halfway around the world to do it.

Bass is looking for a Major League opportunity after spending last season pitching in Japan to help establish himself. Among the five or six interested teams, he said, are the Tigers, who already have more potential starters than spots, but they can offer a chance to compete for a relief role or insurance starter.

"I kind of take a look at teams' rosters and see where they stand and where would be a good fit for me," Bass said. "They have a lot of starters, so I feel like if I were to go there, it would be more of a relief role, which I'm open to. But I would like to start."

Another interested team, Bass said, is Texas, for whom he pitched out of the bullpen two years ago before heading to Japan.

Nothing is close to completion at this point, Bass said. With Spring Training approaching and many teams getting a better idea of their payrolls with arbitration cases, he's anticipating the market will begin to move.

"Just kind of waiting for the right deal to pop up," Bass said Saturday.

Wherever he ends up, Bass hopes to take the lessons he learned in Japan with him and prove to be a better pitcher for it. His experience goes beyond the numbers.

Bass posted an 8-8 record and 3.65 ERA in a swing role for the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters, starting 14 games and appearing in another 23 out of the bullpen. He then won three games in relief in the best-of-seven Japan Series, adding an RBI single at the plate in the clinching Game 6.

Just as important for his career, Bass learned about himself as a pitcher by facing a different style of offense.

"I learned how to pitch inside a lot," Bass said. "Those hitters are really good. It's almost like a National League kind of feel to it. They're very good at beating the ball into the ground. They're very fast. I had to basically make them beat me on the pull side, a lot of their hitters, so I was pitching inside effectively. That's why I started having a lot of success.

"And then I started developing my split more, which I kind of picked up from Matt [Shoemaker]. He showed me how he throws his, because it's his out pitch. I started throwing it with Texas and then threw it more this past season."

Shoemaker was Bass' high school teammate in Trenton. The Angels' starter joined Bass for his pitching camp as a guest instructor, along with Oakland A's pitcher . The camp not only helps out Wayne State baseball -- which is nearing completion on Ernie Harwell Field in honor of the longtime Tigers broadcaster -- it raises money this year for the Wayne State police department to honor fallen officer Collin Rose, who was killed in the fall.

"It's just a way for me to give back," Bass said of the camp. "They gave me an opportunity to play at the college level and then I just ran with it. It's the least I can do for the program, to come back here and help them out."