LAKELAND Paul Molitor Jersey , Fla. (AP) — As the Detroit Tigers prepare for what could be another tough season, Chris Ilitch can look back on a couple success stories from the Motor City’s recent past.“I’ve had a wonderful opportunity, having lived through building a four-time Stanley Cup champion in the Detroit Red Wings, and championship teams with the Detroit Tigers, and World Series participants,” Ilitch said. “I think as you look back on how those clubs were built, they were built in large part, exactly the way we’re building this club.”Ilitch, the CEO of both the Tigers and Red Wings, was at spring training Saturday and took some questions from reporters in the dugout. Detroit lost 98 games in each of the past two seasons and remains in a rebuilding mode, but Ilitch said he’s optimistic about the future. He also said he understands that fans want this process to pay dividends as quickly as possible.“I’m a fan, first and foremost. I want to see our team be a great team, a playoff team, and ultimately a championship team,” Ilitch said. “I think the key for all of us is to make sure that we’re very disciplined in following the right path to that success, and I think we’re doing exactly that.”The Tigers were big spenders for about a decade, winning the American League pennant in 2006 and 2012 and finishing atop the AL Central four straight seasons from 2011-14. Owner Mike Ilitch, Chris’ father, added high-priced free agents like Victor Martinez and Prince Fielder in pursuit of a World Series title, but the franchise still hasn’t won one since 1984. By 2017 Tony Oliva Jersey , Detroit was stuck with an aging, expensive core — and a team that was well out of contention.Mike Ilitch died before that 2017 season, and Chris became the team’s controlling owner. After their chances dwindled in 2017, the Tigers traded J.D. Martinez, Justin Upton and Justin Verlander and began rebuilding in earnest.Ilitch was asked Saturday if the payroll might increase in the future — if the Tigers are able to build a better foundation first with young players.“It’s a very difficult question to answer. What will our payroll, what will our roster look like? So it’s next to impossible to answer that question,” Ilitch said. “The best way I can answer that question is by telling you and our fans that we’re going to do exactly what we’ve continued to do, which is, we’re going to bring the resources to our ballclub that we need to successfully compete and accomplish the goals that we set for ourselves, which is to be, not only a playoff team, but we want to build a championship club.”Ilitch expressed confidence in general manager Al Avila and manager Ron Gardenhire.“I feel we’re making great progress, and I feel like we have a great plan,” Ilitch said. “I know it’s a great plan, because we’ve lived this type of plan, and I’ve personally seen it at the professional sports level now in two different sports. So this is the right way to build a championship team. I feel we’re on the right path.”As for that other franchise Ilitch mentioned: The Red Wings are struggling too. Ilitch said he hasn’t asked permission from the Tampa Bay Lightning to talk to Steve Yzerman about a possible role with Detroit. Yzerman, a star with Detroit as a player, stepped down last year as general manager of the Lightning, moving to a senior adviser role.“As you know, he’s under contract http://www.twinsfanproshop.com/authentic-max-kepler-jersey ,” Ilitch said. “We generally have a rule within our organization of not talking to or about executives or others that are under contract with another organization. So there’s not a lot I can say about that, other than I know his contract is expiring this summer, and we’ll leave it at that.” Toussaint’s emergency appearance resulted in something rare, and perhaps unique"WhiteFanposts Fanshots Sections Talking Chop User’s GuideTalking Chop PodcastAround the NL EastBaseball Analysis PrimerQuick Hits: Touki Toussaint gets 4 PAsNew,26commentsToussaint’s emergency appearance resulted in something rare, and perhaps uniqueEDTShareTweetShareShareQuick Hits: Touki Toussaint gets 4 PAsJoe Camporeale-USA TODAY SportsYeah, yeah, okay — yes, pitching six wonderful innings in relief of a starter that couldn’t make it out of the second, that’s the real story for Touki Toussaint. But a reliever pitching six innings isn’t even rare: it’s already happened once this season (Adrian Sampson, for the Rangers, in relief of a Drew Smyly who only lasted three frames). Here’s the real weird thing: Touki Toussaint got four, count ‘em, four plate appearances in this game.Using the Baseball Reference Play Index, I queried the last time any relief pitcher got four plate appearances in a game. The most recent occurrence was 2001, when someone named Dicky Gonzalez did so. Fittingly, Gonzalez was pitching for the Mets at the time. We know what happened to cause Toussaint to enter the game so early and stick around so late — Gonzalez’ story is not too different. While actual game starter Glendon Rusch wasn’t as bad on September 19, 2001 as Sean Newcomb (five outs, a walk, a hit by pitch Kennys Vargas Jersey , five hits, and two runs before being pulled with two outs and the bases loaded), the Mets had apparently seen enough and inserted Dicky Gonzalez, who had recently been called up from the minors and hadn’t pitched in two weeks in his place. Gonzalez then spun six and two-thirds innings of shutout ball (four strikeouts, zero walks, six hits) as the Mets roared back to crush the Pirates, winning 9-2. Toussaint went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts at the plate; Gonzalez managed a 1-for-4 day with two grounders, one that snuck through the infield for a single, as well as a fly out and a strikeout. But, despite making a few more relief appearances down the stretch for the Mets, Gonzalez then spent the next two years in the minors, and only made a few more relief appearances in 2004 with the then-Devil Rays before continuing his career in Japan further down the line. In any case, the torch has been passed — Touki Toussaint is now the only relief pitcher to get four plate appearances in a game in the past 18 years.The other thing is that baseball has evolved, and this relative rarity really wasn’t that rare before. Toussaint is the only player, so far, to accomplish this feat in the 2010s; Gonzalez was the only one to do it in the 2000s; someone named Kelly Downs was the only person to do so in the 1990s. But, in the 1980s, it happened 10 times. In the 1970s, over 30 times. In the 1960s, over 75 times. In the 1950s and earlier http://www.twinsfanproshop.com/authentic-max-kepler-jersey , it happened over 100 times in a decade. Will Toussaint be the last pitcher to ever record four plate appearances in relief? Well, perhaps. If the universal designated hitter finds its way to baseball, then it seems pretty likely, at least until that rule is repealed in a drastic attempt to “fix baseball” further down the line.But, there’s one more notable thing about Toussaint’s batting last night — he led off an inning four times, thanks to Alex Jackson making the last out of the inning four times ahead of him. As no bottom of the ninth was necessary, half of Atlanta’s half-innings came with Toussaint leading off. Unfortunately, situational splits like these aren’t as easy to parse with the Play Index (or I can’t figure out how to do it), so I can’t tell you when the last time was that a relief pitcher led off an inning for his team four or more times. Perhaps never. But, using play-by-play data going back to 2000, I can tell you that the most times any pitcher (i.e., including starters) has led off an inning was three — Stephen Strasburg did it as recently as August 30, 2017, and four others have done it over the last two decades as well. (Strasburg actually went 2-for-4 with a solo homer in that game, while pitching a complete game shutout over the Marlins, and led his team in hitting WPA for the contest.) So, it seems pretty likely that Toussaint was the only relief pitcher to lead off an inning four times in a very long while — perhaps ever?This has been your regular installment of completely useless, arcane baseball trivia. You may now carry on with your Sunday.