LAKELAND, Fla. -- One of the first things new Tigers pitching coach Chris Bosio noticed about Jordan Zimmermann when he looked at video was his pace. He was much slower, taking more time between pitches, than Bosio remembered him taking when he was with the Nationals.So on Saturday, as Zimmermann
LAKELAND, Fla. -- One of the first things new Tigers pitching coach Chris Bosio noticed about Jordan Zimmermann when he looked at video was his pace. He was much slower, taking more time between pitches, than Bosio remembered him taking when he was with the Nationals.
So on Saturday, as Zimmermann made his first appearance of the spring, hoping to prove his health, the right-hander picked up the pace. His fastball registered at 92-93 mph on the Joker Marchant Stadium radar gun over two scoreless innings against the Blue Jays in a 5-4 Tigers win. But the more important speed was his rate of pitches.
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"Been kind of talking about my tempo all spring," Zimmermann said. "I got out there and I was trying to work [quickly], and I got pretty winded in the first. I came off after the first and asked how the tempo was. [Bosio] said it was perfect. I said, 'Well, I need to get in better shape then, because I feel like I'm going to have a heart attack out here.'
"I felt like I was going super fast, but the tempo was good."
It's not a reaction to baseball's emphasis on pace of play, but a Bosio point that pitchers can control the pace and prevent a hitter from settling in. Bosio has emphasized setting the tempo with all of the Tigers' pitchers, but especially with Zimmermann -- who said the data suggested he was a second slower last year compared with his younger self. Not surprisingly, injuries are believed to be a culprit, from a groin injury during his first year in Detroit to the neck and back issues that have hampered him over the last year-and-a-half.
"I just really slowed down everything, made sure my hands were in the right spot and all this other stuff, instead of just forgetting about that and getting the ball and going," Zimmermann said.
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That was Zimmermann's process on Saturday: Get the ball, get the sign from catcher James McCann, then get into his pitching motion. A 20-pitch opening inning for Zimmermann felt like a cardio workout for him before he settled down for an 11-pitch second inning.
Wood won't pitch for a while longer
Lefty Travis Wood, who had a pin removed from his injured right index finger earlier this week, is not yet ready to pitch in games. Though he can throw, the fielding part of his game is a work in progress while he deals with his finger, which he sliced in a crossbow accident before Spring Training.
"He wants to go," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "I don't think he has any fear. It's just a matter of being smart with this whole thing. I'll let the doctors tell me."
• Victor Martinez played in his first game since last August, starting Saturday's game as the designated hitter. He went 1-for-2, lining a single into left-center field, before being lifted for a pinch-runner.
• Jose Cabrera showed a byproduct of his health on the basepaths on Saturday, scoring from first base on Nicholas Castellanos' first-inning drive into the gap in left-center field. He picked up enough speed heading into third that he surprised Jose Iglesias, who was jogging around third on his way home. Castellanos took third and scored on a throwing error, making it a three-run play.
• Blaine Hardy was scheduled to pitch on Saturday but was scratched as a precaution after experiencing tightness in his left shoulder.
Up next: The Tigers have their first split-squad set of the spring on Sunday. Matthew Boyd hits the road for his first outing this spring in a 1:07 p.m. ET game against the Blue Jays, his old organization, in Dunedin -- which will be broadcast live on MLB.TV. Back in Lakeland, Artie Lewicki gets the start as the Tigers host the Pirates in a 1:05 ET contest at Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium.
Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.