Tarik Skubal Adds Another Weapon
It’s a moment every baseball player looks forward to. Ask lefthander Tarik Skubal about his major league debut last August and you can hear the smile in his voice.
Skubal's debut wasn’t without its warts. He gave up four earned runs to the White Sox over a pair of frames, but for the 24-year-old, it was another link in his development and the challenge was a welcome one.
“I thought everything was positive,” Skubal said. “I know I didn't put up great numbers . . . but you learn from those types of experiences. I didn't really care about the results. I still don't. I just want to learn from trying to (see) what I need to get better at and how I need to prepare.”
Where some players would look forward to unplugging for the offseason, the 6-foot-3, 215-pound Skubal traveled to Driveline Baseball to attend some pitch design sessions.
“The whole first pitch-design session didn't really go well,” Skubal said. “I wasn't very happy with it. I'm like, 'Ah, this pitch didn't get that much better.' And I threw probably 20 different grips and nothing was working. I'm like, 'Okay, maybe I just can't do it like some people can.' "
Fast forward to the second session and a very different result for the 2018 ninth-rounder from Seattle.
“They said, 'Hey, we're working on trying to really pronounce that changeup, but let's try to throw a splitter,' " Skubal said. “And I said, 'Okay, let's try it.' And right when I started trying that it actually started doing what I wanted, and I was like, 'Yes, this is what I want. This is what I need going forward.' "
With the newest addition to his arsenal identified, Skubal reached out to his splitter-savvy teammate, Casey Mize.
“I said, 'Looks like I throw a splitter now,' and he's like, 'No way,' " Skubal said. "And then we just started talking. It's been cool to ask about his cues, because it's a natural pitch for him because he's thrown it his whole life.
“He's been a huge part in me developing it.”
— Since being selected in the Rule 5 draft from the Twins, Akil Baddoo quickly made a name for himself in a Tigers’ uniform. He hit .325/.460/.750 during spring training with five home runs and four stolen bases.
— Following an early shutdown at the alternate training site last summer, Matt Manning has returned to work, albeit in two-inning increments. The 2016 first-round pick tossed nine spring innings, allowing five runs on 11 hits while striking out eight and walking five.