Even someone as new to Boston as former Texas Ranger Jose Canseco can see that the RED SOX need to improve their starting rotation to get into this pennant race. "If we don't get any pitching, I might have to go back to the mound," says Canseco, who blew out his elbow in a relief appearance two years ago in Fenway Park. "Not in my lifetime," says Kevin Kennedy, Boston's new manager, who, as skipper in Texas, granted Canseco his wish to pitch.
Kennedy likes to say that his new team has "plenty of thunder." In addition to Canseco, who will serve mostly as DH, the Red Sox added outfielder Mark Whiten and catcher Mike Macfarlane to a lineup that included first baseman Mo Vaughn and outfielder Mike Greenwell. Opposing pitchers are bracing for the storm. "Pitching to Canseco in Fenway will be a nightmare," says Cone.
Canseco, a righthanded pull hitter, expects his long fly balls to sail over the Green Monster in leftfield with ease. "The ballpark will help me psychologically," he says. "All I have to do is take a nice easy stroke."
Canseco predicts that because he'll be playing half his games in Fenway, he will hit 10 more home runs than he would have had he remained with Texas and will add 15 points to his .282 batting average in 1994. In one three-game series at Fenway last year, he went 10 for 13 with four home runs and 10 RBIs. "It was the essence of me," he said at the time. "That was everything I was capable of as a human being. I wish I could have bottled that."
Batting against the pitching staff of the Detroit TIGERS 13 times this season won't hurt Canseco's stats, either. Detroit has an explosive lineup—stop us if you've heard this before—and little pitching. But this year, instead of signing aging free agents, the Tigers will depend on prospects.
For the first time in 12 years the Tigers' starting outfielders are all under the age of 30. Milt Cuyler, who has suffered knee injuries the past three years, has been trying to win back his job in left. Chad Curtis, who was traded by the California Angels to Detroit for Tony Phillips on April 13, will be in center. Bobby Higginson, a lefthanded slugger, and Danny Bautista, a light-hitting righthanded hitter, will platoon in right. Excluding Curtis, those outfielders played a combined 79 games in the majors last year.
Though unremarkable players are scattered about the Detroit roster, and the pitching staff is loaded with twentysomethings who probably should still be pitching in Triple A Toledo, Curtis is confident that the Tigers, who finished last in the American League East in 1994, will be an improved club. "My goal," he says, "is to be a part of a championship here this year." Maybe down the road.