Anthony Fenech, Detroit Free Press
Published 6:01 a.m. ET March 26, 2020 | Updated 9:12 a.m. ET March 26, 2020CLOSE
Free Press sports writer Anthony Fenech tours the Detroit Tigers’ Dominican Republic academy in March 2020.
Detroit Free PressSomewhere, in a different world, Ron Gardenhire would be in the visitors’ dugout in Cleveland.The Detroit Tigers’ manager would have been talking to reporters there, early Wednesday afternoon, before his team went through a pre-Opening Day workout at Progressive Field. He would talk about how he’s excited to “get ‘er goin’” and finally play a game that counts in the standings, maybe even crack a joke about how his wife is excited he’ll be out of her hair for a while.It would be cold, but that wouldn’t stop the youngsters on the Opening Day roster from dreaming. Miguel Cabrera would be in a good mood, his arm draped around Lloyd McClendon behind the batting cage. The workout would be quick; don’t want to get worn out before Opening Day.[ Missing Tigers’ Opening Day? Here are nine greats from the past ]Somewhere, in a different world, one not interrupted by the coronavirus pandemic, today would be Opening Day.Gardenhire would be answering questions again, about how nice it feels to have some pop in the middle of the batting order, which reliever he would call on in a setup situation, and if he has watched “Tiger King” on Netflix.Gardenhire would be happy. His players would be happy. You and I would be happy. Everybody would be happy — because baseball would be back.[How the Detroit Tigers stack up digitally in ‘MLB The Show 20′]Instead, Gardenhire talked to reporters by phone Wednesday afternoon. He was in Fort Myers, Florida, and he didn’t have to worry about reliever roles. He took impossible-to-answer “what if?” questions about when baseball will next be played and answered the saddest of them all: “If you had an Opening Day lineup, who would be in it?” by starting with saying Cabrera would hit third.“It would go from there,” he said. “We had (Cameron) Maybin leading off because analytically, he gets on base and he has a good eye at the plate and all of those things. But we were just mixing guys around and I was having fun with the lineup because I actually had some veteran hitters that you could kind of place around and it looks like the ball is going to jump out of the ballpark a lot more for us this year, which always makes it more entertaining.”More: How to watch the Tigers