TORONTO — There were no raised voices, no chairs thrown across the visitors’ clubhouse at Rogers Centre.
“This was just a casual talk,” said Detroit Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire of the Sunday morning team meeting he called in the midst of an 11-game losing streak.
Right fielder Nicholas Castellanos put it this way: “It was more of a we’re-all-in-this-together conversation than an ass-chewing conversation.”
Whether the chat had anything to do with the Tigers finally breaking the streak Sunday afternoon against the Blue Jays is debatable. The win probably had more to do with big two-out hits and an outstanding pitching performance from Jordan Zimmermann.
But the meeting did demonstrate that the team’s unity hasn’t splintered, even in the face of a tumultuous two-week winless stretch that included the firing of pitching coach Chris Bosio for making insensitive comments.
Castellanos, catcher James McCann and designated hitter Victor Martinez were among the speakers.
“We just kind of addressed the elephant in the room and gave anybody who wanted a chance to speak up,” Castellanos said.
Castellanos used Martinez’s sluggish start to the 2013 season as an example of weathering the bad times without changing your approach.
“I said, ‘Man, I’m sure a lot of people aren’t where they wanted to be or expected to be. But I remember in 2013 Victor was hitting .212 or .215 and just taking it one at-bat at a time, he was .300 by the end of the season,'” Castellanos said.
“It doesn’t happen overnight. You can’t pull yourself out of a hole with one swing, one at-bat. It takes time and just take pride in each at-bat and pitch and you’ll look up and at the end of the year your numbers will be where you want them to be.”
The Tigers were on the verge of reaching .500 when the streak began on June 17. Now they’re 37-48 and entering the month in which trade rumors will dominate the conversation.
So while one win changes little in the big picture, it does allow the Tigers to stop talking about the blasted streak for a while, Gardenhire said.
“We’ve just got to keep grinding. This is a long, long season. You have stretches where it just doesn’t go your way. Now we can forget about it for at least another day. That was a fun win, a really fun win.”