"Platoon," barks Tiger manager Sparky Anderson. No, that wasn't his Oscar vote; it's his solution to Detroit's uncertainty at DH and catcher. Sparky has patched his team's holes with fresh grunts like ex-Brave Terry Harper (career average .254) and Mike Heath, he of the Charlie Sheen bristle cut and recent hellish combat experience behind the plate in St. Louis. Harper will share DH time with John Grubb, while Heath will team with Dwight Lowry to replace the departed Lance Parrish. "Well, we won't finish last," says Anderson, sounding uncharacteristically forlorn.
Watch out—this could be a trap. Sparky, ever the canny strategist, let the so-called experts pick his Tigers apart in spring training, then turned to his team and delivered the old boys-the-world-thinks-we-stink-and-what-are-we-going-to-do-about-it? number. "It opened our eyes and got us right down to business," says Detroit pitcher Dan Petry.
Though flawed, the Tigers could open a few eyes. They still have a strong pitching staff. Jack Morris returns, albeit reluctantly, and Petry, who averaged more than 17 wins a season from 1983 through '85, has apparently recovered from last summer's elbow surgery.
Some fear that Detroit cannot survive the loss of Parrish. "He was the rock, the big wheel, the pillar that held up the whole structure," mourns Petry. But Anderson, who has never before entered a season without either Parrish or Johnny Bench, says, "No one player can be that important to you. If he is, you must not have much of a team."
Grounded into 20 double plays in '86, only three GIDPs the year before.
62 HRs over past four seasons, compared with 26 in four previous years.
He and Strawberry are only players with 25+ steals and 25+ HRs in each of last three years.
Career batting average of .396 (38 for 96, 7 HRs) at Fenway Park.
Led AL with 69 homers over past two years; Schmidt, with 70, led NL.
Had eight hits, six for extra bases, with the bases loaded last season.
Has hit 23 of his 24 career homers against righthanded pitchers.
Over last three years has batted .334 vs. lefties, .233 vs. righties.
BA on grass has been higher than on artificial turf in eight of his nine seasons.
Averaged 7.63 innings per start, 4th highest in major leagues.
Allowed one HR per 27.1 at bats in '86, compared with one per 96.1 at bats in '85.
Loves to face Mike Pagliarulo (0 for 15); hates to face George Brett (14 for 32, 5 HRs).
Allowed 31 first-inning runs (2nd most in majors) in 31 starts.
8-4, 4.31 ERA in 16 starts; 3-0, 1.25 ERA in 17 relief appearances.
Allowed three extra-inning home runs last season, tied for most in the majors.