Tigers ready for chilly opener

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — It has been colder than normal during spring training this year.

It will be much colder than it has been in Florida when the Tigers open the season in Minnesota today against the Twins.

“When we get off the plane, it’s going to be colder than hell,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “If you don’t think it is, you’re crazy. No sense making a big deal about it.”

According to AccuWeather.com, it will be partly sunny, breezy and cold with a high of 34 degrees for the game.

“Yeah, it’s going to be cold, but it’s going to be cold for both teams,” said Tigers centerfielder Austin Jackson.

“There’s nothing you can really do about it. You just gotta make sure you’re getting loose and breaking a sweat. It’s tougher to get loose in those conditions, but I think we’ve all been through it and know how to prepare before a game to get loose and not get injured.”

Jackson said he’ll be dressed for the occasion.

“I’m going to have all the cold gear on, so hopefully it’s not too cold for me,” Jackson. “With all the technology and the gear that they have nowadays, it’s something where you’re not too restricted, but at the same time you feel warm with the type of gear you have on.”

Shortstop Jhonny Peralta agreed.

“For me to play in the cold, it’s nothing different,” Peralta said. “I played in Cleveland before and it was snowing. I know it’s not fun to play in the cold.”

Throughout spring training, the Florida temperatures often were unseasonably cool.

“It’s probably the first year that I’ve been here that the weather kind of changed on us,” Jackson said. “It was cold at first, then we had some nice days in the middle, and then it got cold again here recently. It can kind of prepare you for the first part of the season.

Third base coach Tom Brookens has been part of a lot of cold games over the course of his playing career with the Tigers.

“I can remember playing in Chicago one day really early in the season and actually snow squalls going through the game, it was pretty bizarre and cold,” Brookens said. “You just kind of deal with it.”

Of his Brookens’ favorite cold weather stories involves former Tigers manager Sparky Anderson and Alan Trammell.

“Sparky told Tram and a couple guys about playing in cold weather, that a newspaper will keep you warm,” Brookens said. “Tram took the morning paper and peeled a sheet and put it under his uniform and he was crinkling when he moved. I said, ‘What the heck does Sparky know about cold weather? He’s from California.’ “

The pitchers can be at an advantage against hitters in the cold.

“If you don’t square it up, you’re going to see a lot guys going down and blowing on their fingers when they get to first base,” Brookens said. “It always amazed me how well the pitchers could perform because the ball seems to get slick in the cold, I think.

“Baseball to me is not a lot of fun when it’s cold. It’s supposed to be nice and hot and sweaty and warm. You just deal with it.”


Posted by Tribune News Services

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