Notes: Sheff puts memories in past
Tigers star looking forward to Detroit atmosphere
TAMPA, Fla. -- Gary Sheffield arrived at his old training grounds of Legends Field and admitted he'll miss the electricity of Yankee Stadium. Tigers manager Jim Leyland expects he'll get a charge out of Comerica Park.
"There'll be plenty of energy where he's going," Leyland predicted.
The Tigers brought a lot of their regulars over from Lakeland for Monday's nationally televised Spring Training contest against the Yankees. For Sheffield, it was more like a home game, both because of his residence in town and because he spent the previous few springs at this complex.
It wasn't a round of parting shots at his old organization, more like a fond farewell and an appreciation for his time in the Bronx.
"You miss the atmosphere, you miss the fans pushing you," Sheffield told reporters Monday morning. "Knowing that if you don't achieve, they're going to come down on you -- that's motivation. That's something I welcome. I think it's valuable."
"I had a great experience. You can't erase the great years that I had here. I feel proud of what I did. Nobody thought I would be able to do it."
The atmosphere that awaits him in Detroit should help fill the void. He's already getting a hint of it.
"I'm humbled by it, no doubt about it," Sheffield told Detroit reporters later in the day, "because it can be the other way. I appreciate the support they've given this team. Everywhere I go around Florida, even in the offseason or in New York, people were congratulating me and [saying] hopefully it'll work out well for me in Detroit.
"I didn't know there were that many Tiger fans all over the world. Then, as soon as I signed on the dotted line, I went to Aspen [Colorado], and there were a lot of people from Detroit there. I thought they still thought I played for the Yankees, but they said, 'We're happy to have you in Detroit.'"
Sheffield saw what a sold-out Comerica Park could be like last October in the American League Division Series. He really noticed it, he said, watching Kenny Rogers feed off the crowd in Game 3 of that series.
"It was electric that night," he said.
Sheffield, too, is a player who feeds off that kind of reception. What he hasn't seen, of course, is that it can be like that for a regular season game. Leyland said it was the best atmosphere in which he's ever managed. He knew fans would show up if the team was good enough, but even he was caught by surprise a bit.
"I don't think any stadium had any more energy than Comerica Park last year," he said. "That's what I really believe. Our fans were as good as any in baseball once we proved to them that we were for real. We finally gave them a decent show, and they supported us above and beyond what you could expect. From that standpoint, fan energy, loyalty, I don't think we have to take a back seat to anybody. ...
"I think he'll like it there very much. It's similar in energy."
Different intensity, same velocity: Joel Zumaya has talked about taking an easier approach to games this year, not trying to throw hard so much and trying to pitch a little more for ground balls. On Monday, he went out throwing free and easy -- and still hit triple digits on the radar gun.
Zumaya's first three pitches Monday registered at 99, 100 and 101 mph on the radar gun used for ESPN's telecast. He hit triple digits at least four times in his inning of work. A later check suggested the readings were accurate. But it wasn't what Zumaya was trying to do.
"I didn't know how hard I was throwing," he said. "Today it felt like it was 97, 98."
His most impressive pitch, however, was in the mid-80s -- a curveball that he dropped onto the outside corner to retire Doug Mientkiewicz on strikes.
"I can make it better," Zumaya said. "That's what my offseason [goal] was. Everybody knows I can throw a good fastball, but what is my secondary pitch? An average curveball? I need a good curveball. These guys are going to be on my fastball."
Zumaya is trying to slow down his motion a bit and gain some control. But as far as not throwing fastballs at 100 mph, Leyland isn't buying it.
"When he gets out there, he's going to throw hard," Leyland said.
A long way from the Bronx: The last time Andrew Miller faced the Yankees, he was a nervous 21-year-old making his Major League debut with a scoreless inning last August at Yankee Stadium. The rematch was a little less stressful, but not much less taxing.
"A little easier with Spring Training," he said, "but they're still tough outs."
Miller gave up two hits and a walk in his two innings of work, yielding an Alex Rodriguez RBI single before Curtis Granderson ran down a line drive to center for an inning-ending double play. His lone strikeout came against Robinson Cano in the fourth.
"You don't get those guys to swing and miss," Miller said. "I think [Derek] Jeter's fouled 20 pitches off me and I've faced him twice. I feel like I have 10 at-bats against him because he fouls off pitches over and over. That's what makes them such good hitters."
Miller doesn't come into these games trying to win a job, of course. However, while Leyland says Miller "most likely" will begin the season in the Minor Leagues, he won't say it for sure.
Miller, for his part, says he sees who's ahead of him and a lack of open spots, not to mention a lot to learn. He puts his chances against making the big club out of camp at 99 percent "and then as many nines as you can put in after that. Not very good at all. I can't have unrealistic expectations."
Ticket update: The Tigers sold 86,606 tickets on their first weekend of single-game tickets, including 76,317 on Saturday, according to vice president of ticket sales Bob Raymond. Their season-ticket sales also moved up to the equivalent just under 18,000 full-season tickets, nearly double the total from last year.
Injury update: Brent Clevlen left Monday's game in the sixth inning after taking a Tyler Clippard pitch off the back of his helmet. He was attended to by athletic trainers afterwards, but the plunking isn't expected to have a major impact.
"He's fine," said Leyland. "We took him out as a precaution."
Coming up: After a long morning on the highway thanks to an accident-related traffic jam on Interstate 4 heading towards Tampa, the Tigers don't have to leave town for a couple of days. They welcome the Blue Jays to Joker Marchant Stadium on Tuesday for a 1:05 p.m. ET game. Mike Maroth will make his second start of the spring opposite Roy Halladay, who will likely take the hill for Toronto on Opening Day at Comerica Park.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.