Friday, March 31, 2017
Tigers Meet Harlequin: Love and Baseball
What You Need To Know: The Tigers drafted Nick out of high school in 2010. His mother is a native Detroiter, although she and her husband (Jorge - Castellanos is a Cuban surname) raised their family in Florida. So Nick signing with his mother's hometown team was pretty dang exciting.
He was a shortstop in college, but the Tigers shifted him to third base. However in 2013, with Migell Cabrera still playing third and Prince Fielder holding court at first base - Nick was a top prospect with no position. So the Tigers sent him to AAA Toledo to get work in left field. His name kept getting dangled as possible trade bait, but the Tigers considered him untouchable, so he stayed. In 2014, the Tigers sent Prince to Texas for Ian Kinsler, shifted Migell to first base and just like that? Nick was back playing third and made the big league team out of spring training. Nick had a breakout year in 2016, hitting .285 with 18 homeruns, but limited to 110 games thanks to breaking his hand when he got hit by a pitch.
His Baggage: Man, it seems longer, but 2017 is only Nick's third full year in the big leagues. I would say he's been a steady player. He got ragged on quite a bit in 2014 (his first full season) for his defense and his hitting took some time, but really? I thought he was fine. But cranky fans are gonna crank. Last year was really the start of something special for Nick. He looked really good, and then he got hit by a pitch and my slim hopes that we might make the playoffs went up in smoke. Losing him and JD Martinez to injury late in the season really took some wind out of our sails.
Well apparently Nick must feel the same way because this sping? Holy cow! My boy has obviously been spending some time in the gym. He's completely transformed his body. His chest. His arms. Sorry, give me a minute. Here, just look at the picture. It tells you all you need to know. Somebody bring me a cold glass of water, will ya?
The Proposed Category Romance Plot: He's wanted to be a big league ballplayer for as long as he can remember. His mother jokes that his first word was "ball." But he knows that this year is put-up or shut-up time. He's just signed a one-year deal with the team to avoid arbitration and he was having a great year last year before an injury sidelined him. There are expectations, his own and the team's. Which means he needs to focus like he's never focused before and come into spring training with some edge. He's heard about a dynamite trainer who has worked with several professional athletes - pro ballplayers who were thought to be past their prime, and this trainer worked serious magic. That's enough for Nick. He just didn't plan on her being so breathtakingly beautiful. Stunningly attractive AND an athlete? Nick only has so much willpower.
The Heroine: She was once a world class athlete, a college track and field star who was working her way towards her Olympic dream when a knee injury ruined everything. The doctors were able to put her knee back together but a gold medal in the 100 and 400 meter hurdles was never going to happen now. Crushed by despair she could barely get out of bed until she got some tough love from her older brother, a semi-pro baseball coach. It ain't the big leagues, but his guys need some help in the strength and conditioning department and his little sister needs a purpose. It's win-win.
What Harlequin Line?: A former track star meets her match in a hunky professional baseball player. Two passionate competitors, a wee dose of glamour and a heroine who has a close relationship with her protective older brother. That's a Kimani Romance y'all.