Well, it was a surreal setting at Comerica Park on Thursday.  With the 8,000 or so fans allowed in (thanks, COVID-19) and the snow squalls that blew throughout the game.

And then the Miguel Cabrera (pictured above) opposite field home run in the snow off of AL Cy Young Award winner, Shane Bieber.  And finally, Gregory Soto nearly blowing a 3-0 lead in the top of the ninth inning to hang on and get the save in a 3-2 victory.

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This Tigers squad is still in the rebuilding phase.  They're not ready to contend for the playoffs yet, but 100 loss seasons are not acceptable anymore.  The one thing you could be critical of Ron Gardenhire is that, maybe, he was too tolerant of losing.

That's all changed with the hiring of A.J. Hinch as manager (I wouldn't have hired him, but that's another story).  With Hinch on board, a winning culture needs to start blooming this year.

Questions are abound with this club, however.  Can highly touted prospects Casey Mize and Tarik Skubal pitch well after making the club out of spring training?  What about the bullpen?  Can Gregory Soto (or somebody else) be counted on to close games out on a daily basis?

How will Miguel Cabrera do playing 1st base (at least part-time)?  What about Jeimer Candelario?  Or Willi Castro?  Can JaCoby Jones stay healthy all season in center field?  And how will Victor Reyes and Rule 5 pick Akil Baddoo work out in the outfield?  Not to mention free agent acquisition Robby Grossman?

Back to Miguel Cabrera for a moment.  He got his wish to play some 1st base in 2021.  Now, ff he stays healthy, he can reach 500 career home runs and 3,000 career hits this year.  Can the team rally around him in his chase and play better baseball because of it?  And can Miguel become the kind of leader needed on a team, and a fanbase, starving to win?

These questions could have solid answers by the time we get to August.  I think 76-86 is a reasonable goal because of all the uncertainty.  But if all the questions I just asked turn out in the affirmative (or most of them), then we might be playing meaningful baseball into the late summer.


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