(DETROIT FREE PRESS) - No Jose Iglesias, Andy Dirks or Bruce Rondon?
No problem. The Detroit Tigers are still John Kruk's pick to represent the American League in the World Series.
The ESPN baseball analyst spoke on a conference call Wednesday with fellow analyst Dan Shulman on a variety of topics, including the Tigers' tumultuous spring training and whether they still have what it takes to return to the Fall Classic.
"Well, if their starting pitching is healthy, they're the favorites – and I know Cleveland had a great run last year, but I still think, and I always say that once you have enough pitching you've got a great chance to win," Kruk said about the Tigers.
"The thing about spring training is, especially with a veteran team like they have, sometimes guys are just doing what they have to do to get ready, and I don't really put a lot of stock in a veteran struggling in spring training. But all things said and done, it's still their division to win or lose. I think they're the odds-on favorites and I think I'm going to pick them to get to the World Series this year."
The Tigers already look different enough when they reported to spring training last month; out went Prince Fielder, Doug Fister, Joaquin Benoit and Jhonny Peralta, while Ian Kinsler, Joe Nathan, Ian Krol and Rajai Davis are in.
But injuries plagued the Tigers the past month; now shortstop Jose Iglesias is likely out for the season with stress fractures in his legs, prompting the Tigers to trade for shortstops Andrew Romine and Alex Gonzalez. Bruce Rondon is out for the season with Tommy John surgery, thinning out the bullpen. And Andy Dirks is out for several months after back surgery, which means more playing time for Davis in leftfield.
"I just think that when you lay out all the cards with every team in the American League, I think they're as good as any of them," Kruk said.
Shulman, meanwhile, picked the Tampa Bay Rays to win the American League.