Alex Wilson Set to Return to Tigers
Alex Wilson did almost every single role on the pitching staff when he first joined the Tigers. This time, he returns on a Minor League contract with the vision of becoming a bullpen psychologist.
He has opted to take on the dual role of being a veteran reliever and a first-year graduate student. The former pitcher is optimistic that his second chance with the team can help him fix his legacy while also paving the way for this new and second career.
‘I feel like I have a lot more to give on and off the field’, said Wilson in a phone interview. ‘If this happens to be the last year that I play, I would rather have it there helping guys that I know, like (the Tigers' No. 14 prospect) Beau Burrows and (No. 2 prospect) Matt Manning’.
‘There's nothing in this game that I haven't done now. I've been hurt. I’ve broken my leg. I've been released. I've been traded. I've opted out’, Wilson continued. ‘If I can ease a situation for a player rather than having them stress about it, I think that's a huge advantage’.
His deal includes a non-roster trip to Spring Training - in which he has a big chance of retaking the bullpen role that he once filled in back in Detroit from 2014-18.
The 33-year-old would then be the oldest member of the Tigers bullpen that has a very young core. That group missed Wilson so bad that they underperformed this year.
The Tigers went on a struggle as they finished with a 114-loss season, which was very disappointing. Wilson, however, went from Milwaukee and Triple-A San Antonio - where he posted a 9.53 ERA in just 13 April games for the Brewers before his then-release in August.
Half of his 12 runs allowed were from one futile outing. He then talked with the Tigers regarding a late-season return, but he eventually dissed that and signed with the Cubs instead, with the hopes of a championship run.
Wilson kept in touch with Tigers assistant GM David Chadd for the rest of the offseason with the hopes of a possible reunion. He was able to get back to school and finish his degree in sports management with a minor in psychology, making sure he had plans after his baseball career.
‘I went back and finally graduated from college’, Wilson said. ‘I didn't know which way it was going to go, so I went back to school and applied to grad school, wanting to play and do grad school at the same time. That way, whenever my playing days are done, I’m ready for it’.
Wilson says that he wants to make his leadership felt in the team, someone who could provide insight through his experience in various games in his career.
‘My expectation, personally, is to make the team’, he said. ‘And if I make the team, I'm not going to be the oldest, but I'll be close to it. A lot of it's going to be helping the young guys learn the ropes as a big leaguer. You need an older guy or two to show them the right way to do things and point them in the right direction. I have a good relationship with a handful of younger guys there already’.
‘It doesn't matter if you're rebuilding or rebooting. You have to have veteran leadership. I would like to be that guy’, he added. ‘They made me an offer and I accepted it pretty much immediately. I wanted to come back and be a part of everything coming together’.
Words: Paul Daniel Flores