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Bosio wants unpredictability from Tigers

New pitching coach using unusual drills, technology to improve staff
MLB.com @beckjason

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Chris Bosio has spent a good chunk of his first few workouts as Tigers pitching coach working with individual pitchers on their mechanics and specific pitches. But he has some staffwide ideas in mind, too.

He wants pitchers working on tempo, varying their rhythm to make it tougher for hitters to get comfortable in the box against them. He has a drill with pitchers to try to throw six pitches in 60 seconds, and another where pitchers slow their windup and hold for a second. He has had catchers lining up at various spots behind the plate during bullpen sessions to give pitchers a different look.

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Chris Bosio has spent a good chunk of his first few workouts as Tigers pitching coach working with individual pitchers on their mechanics and specific pitches. But he has some staffwide ideas in mind, too.

He wants pitchers working on tempo, varying their rhythm to make it tougher for hitters to get comfortable in the box against them. He has a drill with pitchers to try to throw six pitches in 60 seconds, and another where pitchers slow their windup and hold for a second. He has had catchers lining up at various spots behind the plate during bullpen sessions to give pitchers a different look.

Spring Training information

He wants pitchers more comfortable being less predictable, and getting a little edge on hitters that way.

"In this day and age of scouting reports, hitters know what a pitcher is going to do," Bosio said. "I'm that guy that's going to flip the script. We are going to have a surprise element to us. We are going to be going against the curve, so we're not so predictable."

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

The Tigers finished last season with a 5.36 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, .282 batting average allowed and .811 OPS allowed, all worst in the Majors. There were several stretches during the season when pitchers, notably Justin Verlander, wondered if they were tipping pitches, having signs stolen or otherwise falling into patterns. Even at times when that didn't seem the case, hitters often seemed comfortable getting into the box against Detroit hurlers.

Verlander and Anibal Sanchez are gone. Mike Fiers is in. But the bulk of the pitching staff remains the same. If the Tigers are going to improve those stats, they'll have to improve from within. That's why Bosio is here.

It's also why the Tigers have invested in technology to help them in camp, from a high-speed camera to break down pitching motions frame by frame to portable Trackman devices that can record spin rate and vertical and horizonal pitch movements in bullpen sessions like in games.

"I'm kind of curious to see release point and finish, stuff like that," Michael Fulmer said. "I've never been a big guy in spin rate, but they're trying to encourage it. Hopefully I can get behind it."

Mahtook not getting comfortable

Mikie Mahtook reported to his second Spring Training as a Tiger this weekend, but it's his first camp in which he actually has a starting job. His breakout season in 2017 landed him a spot in left field heading into 2018. To Mahtook, however, the approach isn't any different.

"The main goal in Spring Training is to be ready for the season and be the best player you possibly can be, whether you're a starter or trying to compete for a spot," Mahtook said. "My mentality is the same. Yeah, it's nice to come in here knowing it's not as much pressure, but still, you put the pressure on yourself. You do things you think you need to do to improve and you go from there. It's a little different, but my mindset hasn't really changed."

Quick hits

• Free-agent right-hander Chris Tillman, whom the Tigers have tracked since the start of the offseason, threw for team officials on one of the back fields at Tigertown on Saturday, according to a report in the Baltimore Sun. Tillman is reportedly expected to sign with a team in the next few days.

• Designated hitter Victor Martinez and shortstop Jose Iglesias were the only Tigers yet to report to Spring Training as of Sunday afternoon. Both are expected to be present for Monday's first full-squad workout.

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.

Detroit Tigers, Mikie Mahtook