SEIDEL: Confidence, consistency only elements holding back Tigers’ Crosby

Tigers pitcher Casey Crosby is working on improving his confidence and consistency. (Kirthmon F. Dozier/Detroit Free Press/MCT)


MCT Columnist

Casey Crosby shrugged his shoulders. No big deal.

And that says everything.

“I was just trying to get my work in,” he said Monday afternoon while sitting at his locker in the Tigers’ clubhouse after pitching against Victor Martinez, Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera.

Granted, it’s early in spring training, but none of the superstars hit the ball hard against Crosby in live batting practice.

Martinez fouled off two pitches before a swing and miss. Fielder hit a weak grounder. In his second at-bat, Martinez hit a weak grounder.

It meant nothing to the superstars — pitchers are ahead of hitters at this point — but it could mean everything to Crosby and his development.

“You grow up seeing them and they are superstars, but you get to know them and they are your teammates,” Crosby said.

Crosby had that look: Ho-hum. Just another day at the office. And that growing confidence is huge for this young left-hander with major league talent.

“Obviously, it gives you confidence,” Crosby said. “I was able to pound the zone a little bit today. It just gives you confidence going into games, that’s for sure.”

Confidence and consistency.

Those are the only things holding him back from the big leagues. Crosby has a fastball that tops out at 96 m.p.h. and a nasty curve that was named the best in the organization by Baseball America.

Crosby, 24, has a chance, although it’s a longshot, to make the roster as a reliever. He probably will start the year in Triple-A Toledo, but it wouldn’t be surprising if he ended up in Detroit this season. The Tigers used 10 starting pitchers in 2012.

“This kid is really an athletic kid,” manager Jim Leyland said. “I think this kid is really good. I think he’s got a lot of potential. I think Cosby has a very high ceiling.”

The Tigers drafted Crosby in the fifth round in 2007. They gave him a $749,500 bonus to persuade him to play baseball instead of playing football at Illinois. One month after signing with the Tigers, he blew out his elbow. He had elbow ligament-replacement surgery and missed the 2008 season.

Last year, Crosby got his big break when right-hander Doug Fister went on the disabled list with a rib injury. Crosby spent two weeks in the major leagues, starting three games.

“It was amazing,” Crosby said. “A dream come true. It’s very overwhelming. People don’t realize what it means to you. It is very emotional.”

But it might have been too soon.

Crosby struggled, allowing 13 runs in 12 1/3 innings. He returned to Toledo.

“I thought that he got strike conscious in the big leagues, and consequently forced him to back off his velocity a little bit,” Leyland said.

Now, Crosby has a new mentality. He wants to attack. He plans to trust his talented arm and let the ball fly.

“I’m itching to get back,” he said. “Just because you made it for a cup of coffee doesn’t mean you made it.”

He’s more calm, more comfortable. “I feel so relaxed right now,” Crosby said.

Kenny Rogers was the last successful left-hander to start any length of time for the Tigers, and he sees something special in Crosby.

“He has a phenomenal arm,” said Rogers, a Tiger in 2006-08. “I love his arm. No question. Talent level is not something that is a problem for him. I think he has a high ceiling for sure. It’s a matter if he can put it together and get everything to click.”

Crosby is working to be consistent. He’s working to attack. His confidence is growing, and he’s starting to talk like he is a part of this team. Like he belongs on this team.

Whether it is on the Opening Day roster or whether he’s the first one called up from the Mud Hens.

“We have an amazing lineup and an amazing starting rotation and an amazing bullpen,” Crosby said. “I just want to help win a championship in any way I can. Whatever it is, I’ll do it.”


Posted by Tribune News Services

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