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Notes: Trammell looks ahead
10/03/2004 2:39 PM ET
DETROIT -- The fact that the 2004 season was drawing to a rapid close finally sunk in for manager Alan Trammell Saturday night while he struggled to sleep. But as much as he thought back to what he had just completed and smiled, he couldn't stop thinking about what he called the next step.

"I'm kind of chomping at the bit to see what's in store for next year already," Trammell said. "I've already got my mind working. I'm happy with a lot of things, but it's not what we're looking for. This is just the first step."

The "next step" is a multifaceted idea to Trammell. It's about playing solid defense, holding leads and combining home runs and short swings for two-out hits. It's a lot about the things that the Minnesota Twins have done to win three consecutive American League Central titles.

The conversation came up during Saturday's game, when Dmitri Young was commenting on how quickly Scott Kazmir's fastball came up on hitters. That's the time, Trammell countered, when they need to shorten their swings and look to take pitches to the opposite field.

It's part of an interesting dichotomy. The Tigers hit the 200-homer mark for the first time since Comerica Park opened, but they hit .243 with 55 home runs from the seventh inning on. They finished the season 2-70 when trailing after seven innings and 1-73 when behind after eight innings.

Trammell's point: They need to manufacture some offense to be able to score late.

"When you put an 'American League team' [on the field], it's usually under the category of power," Trammell said. "But in my opinion, I'd like to have a little combination. I'd like to have power, believe me. I like the three-run homer as much as anybody else does. But I just think that we've fallen into that roller coaster [of high and low run totals] a little too much and oftentimes nothing in between. My point would be that to be a championship club, I think you need a little bit of both."

It all falls under one theme, and he's already thinking about planning it for next spring.

"I can tell you what our theme for next year is going to be already. We've got to be more efficient," Trammell said. "Guaranteed, when we get to Spring Training, that'll be my message and that's what we're going to hammer on. Now, how do you get it done? Whatever it is, we've got to buckle down a little bit.

"The first step was getting better, doing this. But if these guys are serious, that's what we have to do. That's where we narrow the gap. Even if we brought in new guys, we still have to do it the efficient way. That's no secret."

Munson injures calf: As frustrating as Eric Munson's season already was going into Sunday, he at least had his health. By game's end, that was gone, too. He injured his right calf backpedaling on a Geoff Blum pop-up to end the top of the eighth inning.

Omar Infante ended up catching the ball. Munson limped to the dugout and had to be helped into the clubhouse. He could barely walk after the game.

"I wasn't running hard or anything," Munson said. "Omar called me off, so I stopped to run forward and get out of the way. As soon as I stopped to change direction I felt a pop in my calf."

Tests Monday will determine whether it's anything serious. Regardless of the result, it's an odd happening on what was his final play of the season -- and depending on Detroit's offseason plans, his last as a Tiger.

"I've been healthy all year," he said. "I haven't had any bumps or bruises. It's kind of weird that it happened on the last day."

Attendance bump: Sunday's announced ticket sales of 22,471 pushed the Tigers' season attendance to 1,917,004, an increase of 40 percent over last season. It's their highest mark since they drew 1,921,305 in 2001.

"They definitely make a difference," Bobby Higginson said. "They make it a lot more fun to play. For some reason, you tend to play better when you have big crowds out there. So we're pretty comfortable with the fact that if we go out there and take care of business like we're supposed to, then we'll get the support that we need to."

Coaches coming back: When Trammell hammers that point home next spring, he'll be doing it alongside the same coaching staff he's had since he started. As expected, the team announced that all of Detroit's Major League coaches will be back for 2005 in their same positions. It'll mark their third year together, an impressive feat for a Major League staff in this day and age and something not seen from the Tigers since the Sparky Anderson era.

It's something Trammell hoped for when he picked his staff in the fall of 2002. "You hope that's the case," he said. "At this point, I think it's a good group. They get along. They're all hard workers. That's really the criteria for me as far as a good coach.

"I do believe stability is important. We've had a lot of change here [in the past] with staffs and things, and I think it's important if it's the right mix that you can keep it together."

Knotts closes strong as starter: With Saturday's win, Gary Knotts will finish the year not only as one of three regular Detroit pitchers with a winning record, but also one of three with multiple saves. As much as being a starter appeals to him, he's fine going into next season as the swingman on the staff.

"I really don't prefer doing one over the other," he said. "If I had my druthers, as we say in the South, I would probably be a starter. But I have to prove to the staff that I can do for a full season. If they go out and get a starter, then I'm fine in the 'pen. This is my first full Major League season, and I feel like I finished strong. Physically, I feel great and I hope that next year I'll have a job."

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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