I'm not going to jump to conclusions about the new-look Detroit Tigers after just one game, but in talking with players and coaches, there is something I took from our discussions: a first impression.
My first impression of Brad Ausmus is that he's unflappable. He's calm and thoughtful. I like his makeup. It doesn't mean I will always agree with his decisions, and it sure doesn't automatically make me believe he will be successful. It just means I think he has the right demeanor for a manager.
Nick Castellanos, the highly-touted prospect, looked a little stiff and unsure at third base. That was almost expected, but what impressed me most was his ability to adjust at bat.
He saw just three pitches in first at-bat and grounded out. His next at-bat, he saw the same number of pitches, but he seemed to have more of a plan in the box and it resulted in a single. He forgot that idea in his third at-bat and struck out swinging.
It looked bleak in his fourth and final trip to the box. He had a terrible swing at the first offering, but adjusted after that and delivered a key hit. It was a 2-for-4 day that saw some ups and downs from a kid who didn't give in, and impressed many vets on both teams on how he quickly learned.
The bullpen was a major concern for this club, last season and this season, but it did the job Monday with my focus on Evan Reed, who players raved about in Spring Training because of his stuff and command. He threw a first pitch strike to each of the three hitters he faced and threw seven of the ten pitches overall for strikes.
Joe Nathan didn't give Tigers fans a roller-coaster ride, but he will at some point this year because that's what most closers outside of Mariano Rivera do. But overall, he is solid and deliberate. He won't fool around with hitters, he will attack them and battle. Love him in the English D.
It's one of 162 games, but sometimes first impressions go a long way. I hope I'm feeling the same way in September as I do here in March.