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Dubee learning what makes Tigers' staff tick

'Spring Training is so important, especially for a new person,' pitching coach says
MLB.com @beckjason

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Rich Dubee had a simple response when asked what it was like to work with Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay during his time as a pitching coach in Philadelphia.

"Good players make you look real smart," the new Tigers pitching coach said Saturday.

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Rich Dubee had a simple response when asked what it was like to work with Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay during his time as a pitching coach in Philadelphia.

"Good players make you look real smart," the new Tigers pitching coach said Saturday.

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If the Tigers' pitching staff rebounds as many hope, Dubee will look like a genius. At this point, though, Dubee is learning, not just about his pitchers but their personalities.

He can preach about the value of pitching on the inner part of the plate, talk about the value of first-pitch strikes and working ahead in counts. Until he sees pitchers in games, he won't have a clear idea about his staff.

"It's one thing to witness them in this type of environment, throwing sides or throwing BP, but it'll change in a game," he said. "You get a little extra adrenaline going."

Video: Tigers name Dubee new pitching coach

Working with his predecessor, Jeff Jones, for the past week has been "a great resource," as Dubee put it, in that regard.

"You like to find out what makes people tick and what makes people comfortable," Dubee said. "Everybody's different, so that's why Spring Training is so important, especially for a new person."

He can point to his Phillies veterans as an example in that regard. While he gained respect for his work with Lee and Halladay, actually working with them provided two near-opposite experiences.

"Cliff was a low-maintenance guy," Dubee said. "Game preparation for Cliff was easy as can be because he didn't want any info. Cliff would have a hard time taking the analytics in today's game. He was one of those guys, and there are guys like that, that really can pitch with their eyes. They see hitters react to a certain pitch and know where to go after that. You always try to teach that, but that's probably one of the toughest things to teach."

Halladay, by contrast, was demanding, as Dubee put it, but in a good way.

"When he threw bullpens and stuff, he wanted your input," Dubee said. "There was a lot of dialogue back and forth, where he was and how he felt. Complete opposite of Cliff as far as game stuff. Doc did a lot of his own video and then would put in what I see and what he saw, but he was really well-prepared."

Dubee is still learning where Justin Verlander falls on that spectrum, and how to handle his personality and his preparation. So far, he said, it has been smooth.

Among the younger pitchers, Dubee said prospects Joe Jimenez and Michael Fulmer have stood out for their big arms. He finds Drew VerHagen to be "an interesting guy," given what he throws and how big he is.

Video: Top Prospects: Joe Jimenez, RHP, Tigers

He likes what he has seen so far from Bruce Rondon, who threw to hitters on Saturday.

"Bruce has been going about it fine," Dubee said. "He's worked hard during [pitchers' fielding practice]. He's going about it at a much more upbeat tempo. And he had real good focus [while] throwing."

Dubee is optimistic about Anibal Sanchez, who he said has resumed shoulder exercises and will try to play catch Monday.

"There's a difference between acute pain and general soreness," Dubee said, "and I think hopefully we caught Anibal's early enough. He mentioned that something wasn't right. The doctors were able to narrow it down hopefully, and we'll go from there."

And like many others in camp, he likes the organization's pitching depth, especially in the battle for the fifth-starter spot.

"You have to have depth in your system, because unfortunately guys are getting banged up, and the guys that are throwing 210 to 220 innings are becoming rarer," he said. "You need the inventory to cover the workloads."

Once Jones returns home to Michigan in the coming days, it'll be Dubee's show completely.

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast.

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