Smith chases MLB dream

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 31, 2005

TAMPA, Fla. – It looks as though hometown hero Jason Smith will make the cut and be placed on the 2005 Detroit Tigers roster.

Smith batted .239 last season with the Tigers through 61 games, picking up 37 hits, five homeruns and 19 RBIs.

“I feel I have done pretty good so far in spring training,” Smith said.

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“I think I’ve done what I wanted to defensively.

I haven’t swung the bat as well as I want, but I’ve had some good at-bats here lately.”

In this year’s spring training for Detroit, Smith is batting .207 with 12 hits, seven RBIs, and four homeruns.

And on Tuesday night against the Atlanta Braves (a game televised locally on Fox Sports Net), Smith went 1-for-4.

“I think we [the Tigers] are going to be pretty good,” Smith said.

“We’ve got a good offensive we can run out there every day and our bullpen is really strong.

Our starters have another year experience and I think it will be a fun year.

And hopefully we’ll be in the playoffs come November.

I think we have a real good shot at making it this year.”

According to Smith, he has been showered with support from both teammates and coaches in Detroit as he strives to become a major role in the Tigers organization.

“The coaching staff here in Detroit is really good,” Smith said.

“They have really good instructors that were great players when they played, and they really work with us.”

In 2004 with the Tigers, Smith slammed his first homerun of the season against Minnesota on June 6 and nailed a pair of solo homers for his first multi-homerun game of his career on July 9 at Minnesota.

So what is the most important thing Smith has learned throughout his baseball career?

“Just to keep the intensity at all times and never get too low,” Smith said.

As long as Smith maintains that attitude, he will have a permanent place on the Tigers roster for years to come.

Smith and Detroit return to action tonight against Cleveland at Winter Haven.

The first pitch for the game is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.

For the latest information on Smith and other local athletes in the pros, check later editions of The Times.