LAKELAND, Fla. — Anyone visiting Tigers camp has to be wondering what’s going on.
As soon as Victor Martinez blows the whistle to switch workout stations, all the players start to roar like, well, a tiger.
If you suspected Torii Hunter might be part of this new team thing, you’d be right.
"Victor actually has been doing it for years," Hunter said. "When it’s time to switch, he’ll blow the whistle. But I figured we should respond to that, so I got up and told Victor, ‘Let’s work on something so we can respond to that.’
"It was just roar like a tiger … So if you’re on the field here and you hear the whistle, everybody roars. It’s pretty impressive. Katy Perry would be proud."
Hunter said it’s all about building that team chemistry, which has been a strong point for the team the last several years. Now it’s time to incorporate the new players into the group, including the non-roster invitees.
The Tigers are getting their work in, no doubt, but they’re also making sure that they have some fun along the way.
First, new manager Brad Ausmus had the pitchers compete in the rag ball tournament, which served a dual purpose that helped pitchers work on their reaction time and created a new competition for the players.
No matter what the game is, professional athletes love competition. The new game, besides the tiger roar, is a basketball-shooting competition.
Ausmus learned it from San Diego manager Bud Black, who does it with the Padres.
"We’re just having a little friendly shooting contest, not actual basketball, just shooting set shots," Ausmus said.
There are several teams: a Dominican team, a staff team, two relief-pitcher teams, one starting-pitcher team, a catcher team, an infield team and an outfield team.
Then there’s one more.
"Then after those teams are picked, Torii can select players off the scrap heap and he has his team," Ausmus said.
Hunter somehow didn’t end up with the outfielders.
Katy Perry would be proud.
Torii Hunter said of the Tigers roaring at spring camp
"I don’t understand that one either. I’m an outfielder," Hunter said. "But they can’t have too much talent. Me and Austin (Jackson), they don’t want that."
Asked just how much basketball talent he had, Hunter said, "I trained three boys … they could shoot. I think I could shoot pretty good, not bad. Haven’t shot in a while, but not bad."
Chamberlain, the champion of rag ball, said he’s a pretty good shooter.
"But it’s a team thing," Chamberlain said.
Catcher Bryan Holaday sounded confident as well.
"I can shoot, but I’m not good at basketball," Holaday said. "I’m not quite tall enough, not fast enough, can’t jump high enough."
Fellow catcher Alex Avila said the catchers might have a secret weapon.
"(James) McCann said he’s a champion free-throw shooter," Avila said.
Don’t count out the Dominican team.
"I’m like LeBron James," Luis Marte said.
A huge Miami Heat fan, Miguel Cabrera just laughed when told what Marte said. Cabrera said he’s going to compete but isn’t a good shooter.
Which team will be the favorite?
"I don’t think anyone wants to play the outfielders," Avila said.
Jackson, who has played basketball and can even dunk, said the competition wasn’t necessarily in the outfielders’ favor.
"We’re just shooting," Jackson said. "If we don’t win, then I’m saying it doesn’t really count. Some people can shoot, but when it comes to moving and shooting, then it starts being a problem."
Ausmus said the competition will take place over the next 10 days in one of the hangars at Tigertown.