GRAND RAPIDS TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire and a host of Detroit players were on hand Thursday for the West Michigan Whitecaps Community Foundation Winter Baseball Banquet at Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park.
Gardenhire spoke to the media before the event, touching on a variety of topics including what he learned from his first year in Detroit and how that has helped form his expectations for his second season.
“There’s a lot of courage in the clubhouse and how hard they fought last year. I know the expectations weren’t high but it didn’t matter in that clubhouse,” Gardenhire said. “They didn’t quit. I think it was 80-plus one- or two-run games we were in. It just tells you a little bit of how much fight they have and how much they want to win.”
Matt Joyce, a member of the 2006 Midwest League championship team, was inducted into the Whitecaps Hall of Fame. As a big leaguer, he’s played 11 seasons and belted nearly 140 career home runs with four major league teams.
“I think winning is a lot more fun. I think winning solves a lot more problems,” Joyce, now a free agent, said. “Winning with a great group of guys is really enjoyable. We had a phenomenal group of guys and I really enjoyed my time here in Grand Rapids.”
The Whitecaps open their season Thursday, April 4 at South Bend, Indiana. The home opener at Fifth Third Ballpark is Saturday, April 6.