No looking back

Fat Guy’s Corner

Jeff Day — Sports Columnist

Jeff Day — Sports Columnist

The NFL football season is now in the rearview mirror and our focus turns to other sports. It is time for college and NBA hoops, and it’s time for some PGA golf. Let’s not forget NHL hockey is alive and well in Detroit. However, we still have one more Super Bowl to take place here in 2011. The Daytona 500 takes place this Sunday at 1 p.m. and they will scream “gentlemen, start your engines.”

This year’s Daytona 500 will mark the ten-year anniversary of Dale Earnhardt’s death at Daytona. I believe Dale Earnhardt Jr. will be sick and tired of answering questions about his father all week long. I am sure it’s still very painful for Jr., even though it’s been 10 years sice his father has passed.

Dale Jr. has won the pole position and would love to win this year’s Daytona 500 for numerous reasons. The first reason is, he hasn’t won a race since 2008, and winning the Daytona 500 would be a nice way to end his losing streak. Dale Jr. will be the sentimental choice by many racing fans on Sunday. My choice will be number 24, Jeff Gordon, who by the way, is sitting in pole-postion number two. Go, Jeffy, Go!

I don’t follow NASCAR much, but this is a race I will watch. I really hope it is a good race and all you gear heads pick the right winner in your car pools. There will be numerous Daytona 500 partys on Sunday. So NASCAR fans "Start your Party" and be safe.

Crack of the bat

Lakeland, Florida has the sounds of leather and the cracking of wood. Yes, spring training has begun and the Tigers are looking forward to the 2011 season. I feel many Tiger baseball fans are also looking forward to the 2011 season; I know I am.

The Tigers have many issues with their ballclub that need to be sorted out down in Lakeland. The two biggest issues are left field and second base. The second base has numerous players wanting to be the Tigers’ everyday second baseman. The participants are Will Ryhmes, Scott Sizemore, Danny Worth, Ramon Santiago, and Carlos Guillen. Yes, five players wanting one position. I would call that a log jam.

The bottom line is a couple of players will make the roster and head north and the others will head to Toledo. Scott Sizemore started last season as the Tigers’ second basemen but a .206 batting average won him a ticket to the Toledo Mudhens. A broken ankle also cost Sizemore much of the 2010 season. Danny Worth was called up in September and played decent but nothing fabulous in a Tiger uniform. Will Rhymes was impressive in the Ole English "D". He hit .300 and had 200 plate appearances. Ramon Santiago can play shortstop or second base. He is the ultimate role player and he will be tough to beat out. Carlos Guiilen is the man Detroit would love to stay healthy and play the majority of time at second base. Carlos has durability problems, as he went to the disabled list three times alone last season. The Tigers have no idea if Carlos Guillen can recover from surgery and play the field. Carlos will not even be ready for the start of the season. What that means is, the job is available to be won and may the player who has the best spring training head north as the Tigers’ second baseman.

The left-field spot has three players who would love to hold down that position. Brennan Boesch, Ryan Rayburn, and Casper Wells will battle it out in Lakeland. The favorite will be Ryan Rayburn who hit .280 with 15 home runs and 62 RBI in 2010. Rayburn really came on at the end of the season. Mr. Boesch’s season was a tale of two seasons. The first part was awesome, and the second part was absolutely horrible. He ended up hitting .256 with 14 home runs and 67 RBI.

Which Brennan Boesch will show up in spring training? We shall see. Casper Wells, the strongest player defensively, is the long shot, I believe. In 93 games, Wells hit .323 and had 17 RBI. I think manager Jimmy Leyland will love watching these players battle it out and make the best decision for the Detroit Tigers ballclub. Next week I will examine the Detroit Tigerss pitching staff.

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