DETROIT -- The seats at Comerica Park were empty aside from staffers and media as Tigers and Royals players were introduced before Detroit's home opener on Monday. The piped-in crowd noise cheered for players on both teams as they were introduced. The emotion for the late Hall of Famer Al
DETROIT -- The seats at Comerica Park were empty aside from staffers and media as Tigers and Royals players were introduced before Detroit's home opener on Monday. The piped-in crowd noise cheered for players on both teams as they were introduced. The emotion for the late Hall of Famer Al Kaline’s tribute, by contrast, was genuine.
“We miss him,” manager Ron Gardenhire said before the game. “We miss him walking around the clubhouse, and I think everybody here in this area knows how much he meant to this area and how much he meant to this ballclub. It is the right thing to do, honor him and wear this patch, and we're proud that we're getting to do this in honor of him.”
A video tribute played on the scoreboard, featuring fellow Hall of Famer Alan Trammell, former teammate Jim Price, Kirk Gibson, general manager Al Avila, Gardenhire and current Tigers players Miguel Cabrera, Cameron Maybin and Matthew Boyd. By the end, the smattering of fans trying to catch a glimpse from outside the center-field fence cheered.
Following the video tribute, members of Kaline’s family, including his widow Louise, his children and his grandchildren took part from home as the team raised a flag with Kaline’s name on it.
Kaline, who spent virtually his entire adult life as a member of the Tigers as a player, broadcaster and later special assistant, died on April 6 at age 85. The Tigers are wearing a patch with his number on their uniforms this season.
Agrazal placed on IL with forearm strain
Dario Agrazal was in line to make his regular-season debut for the Tigers as their starting pitcher on Tuesday against the Royals. Then, he came to the ballpark on Monday and said his elbow was hurting.
“He believed if he tried to pitch, it would really not be good,” Gardenhire said.
With that, Agrazal was placed on the 10-day injured list with a right forearm strain. And the Tigers' already depleted rotation was placed further into flux.
The Tigers will use an opener on Tuesday, Gardenhire said, after using Michael Fulmer in a similar role Monday. With a 12-man bullpen, they should have the pitching depth to handle it. Competitively, however, it’s not ideal.
Agrazal was essentially handling the spot left open by Daniel Norris’ lost Summer Camp. Norris was cleared to join the team last week after testing positive for COVID-19 and missing the first few weeks of camp. He remains on the injured list while he stretches out his arm against hitters at the alternate training site in Toledo.
Like Agrazal, Jordan Zimmermann is also out with a right forearm strain. Unlike Agrazal, Zimmermann is on the 45-day injured list and won’t return until mid-September, if at all.
The Tigers could call up Casey Mize, their No. 1 prospect per MLB Pipeline, next week without using up a full year of service time, though Avila has said that service time won’t be an issue in deciding when to bring up Mize and their other highly-rated pitching prospects.
Detroit brought up one of last year’s Double-A Erie pitching standouts to fill Agrazal’s spot, but it was right-hander Anthony Castro, who averaged 6.6 hits allowed, 5.7 walks and 10.2 strikeouts per nine innings as a reliever and starter for the SeaWolves in 2019. The hard-throwing righty is expected to work out of the bullpen.
Party at home
Normally, the Tigers' home opener is like an unofficial state holiday in Michigan, bringing fans to the ballpark and the nearby bars, restaurants and parking lots to tailgate and celebrate. Monday’s atmosphere was much more muted, both in an empty ballpark and the surrounding areas.
Some fans still took the opportunity to tailgate nearby, even though they couldn’t attend the game. A smattering of fans could be seen outside the center-field fence along Adams Avenue. Others took in the sights from the restaurant atop the Detroit Athletic Club building.
Center fielder JaCoby Jones was originally out of Monday’s starting lineup to rest his back, but he was added after he told Gardenhire he felt fine. Jones had a sore back after crashing into the center-field fence for a catch in Sunday’s win at Cincinnati, Gardenhire said.
Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason.