Ian Kinsler and Max Scherzer were completely expected - established major leaguers who are expected to be leaders on their teams in 2011.
Another pair of ex-Tigers - Doug Mathis and Justin James -spent time with their major league teams in 2010, were traded to other organizations in the off-season, were both among the last pitchers to be sent down to Triple-A ball. Mathis requested his release from the Indians and received it, hoping to catch on elsewhere. James is in AA to start the season, but given his history, no one should discount the possibility that he will return to the majors at some point this season.
Other Tigers had hoped to earn a spot with the parent team in their organizations, but Andrew Johnston and Brock Bond, will find themselves in the minor leagues again to start the year.
The unexpected third Mizzou alum to stick in the bigs at the start of the season is Aaron Crow. After a very troublesome debut season with the Royals organizations in 2010, a year that saw him travel down the organizational ladder more than up, Crow was lights out in Spring Training and secured a spot for himself in the Kansas City bullpen.
■ Ian Kinsler, Texas Rangers: Ian and the Rangers hope to make a return trip to the World Series after losing the championship to the Giants in 2010. Kinsler has become a popular player nationally, his jersey being among the top 20 sellers among all MLB.
Projecting the Texas Rangers' opening day lineup (SportDFW.com)
(1) Ian Kinsler, 2B. No question here. Whether its the right decision or not manager Ron Washington announced early in spring training that Kinsler would be the leadoff guy for Texas, returning to the same role he hit .253 at in 2009. Nonetheless, Texas seems confident with their decision and Kinsler has given them reason to in spring training proving he can flatten out his swing while the same time hit for power, a combination he hasn’t had the past two seasons. Will Washington’s decision pay off? There’ll be an easy measuring stick for that: With Elvis Andrus at leadoff in 2010, Texas made the playoffs and went to the World Series. With Kinsler at leadoff in 2009, Texas finished second in the AL West, eight games out of first place.
■ Max Scherzer, Detroit Tigers: Max has basically been anointed as the #2 starter for the Motor city Tigers (after Justin Verlander) and will be the starting pitcher for the Tigers' home opener
- Native St. Louisan Scherzer set to take it to the Max for the Tigers (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
He's found a home in Detroit's rotation, the accountant with the high-dividend fastball and a sidekick for ace Justin Verlander.
That's what the Tigers think he can be, and Scherzer has gotten there because of how he thinks for himself.
"Thinking in the way that I do led to my solution," Scherzer said. "I bet you that I'll have to figure out another solution sometime here. There is going to be a time when I struggle, when I need to make an adjustment, when something needs to be fixed, and sometimes it's a matter how fast can you do that? ... That's what helps make me a good major-league pitcher. I can identify those corrections. It works for me."
■ Aaron Crow, Kansas City Royals: Aaron made the cut in the last week of Spring Training, and after a long road filled with many detours, he finally has made a "fast" ascent to the Show.
Crow gets call for Royals (Topeka Capital-Journal)
“I’ve been a Royals fan my whole life,” Crow said when he signed with Kansas City in 2009 as the No. 12 overall pick in the Major League Baseball draft. “It was a dream of mine to play here. I can’t wait to get it started.”
. . .
Crow makes the roster after a lackluster 2010 season in the minors. The former Big 12 pitcher of the year for the Missouri Tigers was 7-7 with a 5.66 ERA in 22 starts for the Double-A Northwest Arkansas Naturals last season. He then was demoted to the Royals High-A Wilmington Blue Rocks, where he was 2-3 with a 5.93 ERA in seven starts.
However, Crow may have found a home in the bullpen.
Armed with a fastball in the mid-90s and a strong slider, Crow boasted a 2.03 ERA in nine relief appearances this spring. He struck out 11 batters in 13.1 innings and limited hitters to a .216 average. He pitched a perfect seventh inning in Tuesday’s win against the White Sox.
Still, the Royals may look to make Crow a starter in the future.
“I would never abandon the thought of making him a starter somewhere down the road because his stuff is pretty dynamic,” Royals manager Ned Yost told MLB.com. “We’ll start with him in the ‘pen, have some success and go from there.”
Crow joined the Royals organization in 2009 after opting to not sign with the Washington Nationals the year before, despite being the No. 9 pick in the draft.