LAKELAND, Fla. Despite missing several early season games last year because of a broken right hand, Detroit centerfielder Curtis Granderson led the American League in triples with 13 and batted .280.
Now that he s healthy, the Tigers understandably are excited.
He s a catalyst for our offense, utility player Ryan Raburn said.
He gets everything started. When he gets on base, he scores runs.
Two years ago, Granderson batted .302 with 23 homers. He hoped to build on that in 2008, but was hit by a fastball from Philadelphia left-hander Travis Blackley in the late stages of spring training.
He started the year on the 15-day disabled list and didn t play in his first regular-season game until April 23.
With Granderson out, the Tigers started 8-13 on their way to finishing 74-88, worst in the AL Central.
That was the first time I ve missed the beginning of the season, Granderson said. Ever.
In his return, Granderson, 27, went 2-for-4 with three runs and two RBI against Texas and boasted a .375 batting average by month s end. But Granderson said he didn t feel right until July.
The hand didnt bother me, but everything else did, he said. My legs weren t there, and the timing just wasn t there. When you miss the beginning of the season, it s like you re playing catch-up the rest of the way. I needed another spring training, really.
One of the reasons for that was because while he was out, playing baseball wasn t the only thing Granderson was unable to do. On the advice of doctors, he was told to avoid anything that could slow the healing process.
They said, Don t do anything to jar it, Granderson said. So I said, Can I run? And they said, We don t even want you to do that because of the bouncing and pounding.