New Tigers Mike Fiers, Leonys Martin hoping for better results in 2018

George Sipple
Detroit Free Press
New Tigers pitcher Mike Fiers threw a no-hitter  for the Astros against the Dodgers in 2015.

ORLANDO, Fla. — The two newest Detroit Tigers – right-handed pitcher Mike Fiers and center fielder Leonys Martin – are looking for bounce-back seasons in 2018. 

Fiers, 32, signed a one-year, $6-million deal with the Tigers. He finished 8-10 with a 5.22 ERA with 146 strikeouts in 153 1/3 innings last season with the Astros. He was 5-4 with a 3.84 ERA over 17 starts in the first half, but 3-6 with a 7.39 ERA in 12 appearances in the second half.

“For me, I started off OK,” Fiers said. “Had a really good June and July. Kind of fell off at the end. Everyone goes through tough times. Everyone’s not 100 percent towards the end of the year.

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“Everyone deals with their own type of things. It’s not an excuse or anything. Obviously I wasn’t 100 percent but just trying to do my best and be available for every start I had.”

“Yeah, I had a bad late last four or five starts. But other than that I felt like I pitched very well.” 

Fiers wasn’t on the Astros' postseason roster. 

“Something that I wasn’t too happen about, but at the same time I gotta support my guys,” Fiers said. “Winning a World Series is definitely a dream.” 

He said he knew Tigers general manager Al Avila from growing up in Florida and was a college teammate of ex-Tiger J.D. Martinez. Fiers has also trained in the past with Miguel Cabrera and also knows Nick Castellanos. 

“My game is definitely to fill the zone up and hit corners and work up in the zone, work down in the zone,” Fiers said. “Out and in. Just try to keep the hitters off-balance.

“Definitely having that curveball helps. Whenever I can throw that well, just makes it easier out there for me.” 

Chicago Cubs center fielder Leonys Martin catches a ball at the wall hit by St. Louis Cardinals' Paul DeJong to end a baseball game in the 11th inning Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017, in St. Louis. The Cubs won 2-1. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

Fiers will also be reunited with new pitching coach Chris Bosio, who was his pitching coach in 2011 with the Brewers. Fiers said he didn’t know Bosio would be in Detroit until after he signed. 

“Me and Bosio just clicked that year,” Fiers said. “Just a guy that stands up for his pitchers and stands up for his team and really fights for you on the mound. 

“He wasn’t a guy that was trying to change what you did ... I would say preparing for the game was the biggest thing he helped me do.” 

Martin, 29, signed a one-year, $1.75 million deal with the Tigers. He’ll battle with JaCoby Jones for playing time in center field.  

Martin, who bats left-handed, hit .174 in 34 games with the Mariners and .154 in 15 games with the Cubs last season. 

“Last year was a really, really tough season for me,” said Martin, who pledged to dedicate himself more in the batting cage in 2018. 

Martin said he wants to be a more disciplined hitter and not “chase too much.” 

Martin’s familiarity with some other Tigers also helped in his decision to come to Detroit. He mentioned fellow Cuban Jose Iglesias and said Ian Kinsler, who may be not a Tiger much longer, was a mentor to him early in his career when they both played for the Rangers. 

Martin thanked the Tigers for giving him the opportunity. 

“I really enjoyed to play in Detroit,” Martin said of covering the large center-field area at Comerica Park as a visiting player in the past. “Give me a chance to run, to make good plays. 

“I like to run in the outfield. I like to cover. It’s going to be fun. I’m going to do my best. I’m going to prepare myself in the off-season.”

Martin said Kinsler “was one of the guys that teach me to play this game, how to play in this level. He was a good mentor for me my first couple years in Texas. He was a guy that always give me a good me good advice about the game.”

Contact George Sipple: gsipple@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @georgesipple. Download our Tigers Xtra app for free on Apple and Android devices!