LAKELAND, Fla. -- Prince Fielder has been known for hitting timely home runs over the years. As Spring Training homers go, his shot on Wednesday was pretty important.
Why? It came with the owner in town.
"I'd seen it go out," Mike Ilitch said talking with reporters on Thursday morning, "and I thought, 'Oh geez, that's worth $214 million.'"
The regular-season homers might be a bigger return on investment, but you get the point.
Ilitch usually makes at least one trip to Spring Training every year to watch the Tigers, but this visit had a different feel, mainly because of the team he has helped put together. A few at a time, players filed into manager Jim Leyland's office at Joker Marchant Stadium to meet with their boss, shaking hands with him as he checked in on his investment.
Ilitch wanted to see the product put together, and it probably wasn't a coincidence that the Tigers put together what could be their Opening Day lineup for him to watch. But he also wanted to talk with his players and get an idea how they fit as a team.
"I'm very happy," Ilitch said. "We don't have a hot dog on the team. Everybody gets along so good. We have great chemistry, and that's a nice feeling."
For a team with this much star power, it's a pretty big statement. Many of these players joined the organization with the commitment of Ilitch. Justin Verlander is a homegrown star, which Ilitch appreciates.
However these players develop, having them is something Ilitch values as much as wins.
"What I think I'm most thrilled about is, number one, to win, you've got to have stars," he said. "And [two], for public appeal, you've got to have stars. And number three, people don't realize -- and I didn't realize -- how important it is to get a total organization put together, starting with the business end right on through and getting a quality team built to where you can be competitive and not be a so-so team. And it takes a lot of work. There's a lot of pieces to baseball.
"I feel comfortable we finally got to a level [where we] can be competitive every single year. That's always been my goal. I feel good about that. It would be hard to screw that up once you get there. You tell yourself you want to stay there now."
Cabrera OK after taking line drive to wrist
LAKELAND, Fla. -- Miguel Cabrera's first scare at the hot corner had nothing to do him trying to knock down a ball. It was an Austin Jackson line drive that knocked him down.
The Tigers were early into their morning session of batting practice, and Cabrera was taking ground balls, when Jackson pulled a ball to third that hit off Cabrera's left wrist. Cabrera got up and tried to act as though nothing happened, but he was seen shaking his hand as assistant athletic trainer Steve Carter started jogging to third.
Cabrera flexed the wrist back and forth but stayed in to take grounders before hitting. When batting practice ended, the team's medical staff wrapped his wrist. He remained in the starting lineup with his wrist unwrapped and singled his first time up before making a very good backhand stop and throw to end the fourth and strand a runner on third.
"It's good," said Cabrera, who said that he wasn't paying attention when Jackson hit the ball.
Back spasms gone, Boesch back in lineup
LAKELAND, Fla. -- Brennan Boesch put some specifics on the ailment that knocked him out of the lineup on Wednesday, saying that he'd felt a spasm in his back on a swing during batting practice.
He was back in the lineup on Thursday, batting second and starting in right field.
"I'm good," Boesch said on Thursday morning. "Just one of those things that happens in the spring. I'm back. Just a spasm in my back."
It's something he has dealt with from time to time, he added.
Wilk to start for Tigers on Saturday
LAKELAND, Fla. -- The next edition of the fifth-starter piggyback outing will begin with Adam Wilk, as the Tigers' media notes list him as Saturday's scheduled starter Saturday against the Cardinals at Joker Marchant Stadium.
Andy Oliver and Drew Smyly are scheduled to pitch in relief.
It'll be the first start of the spring for Wilk, the left-hander with the unique delivery who thus far has gone about his business quietly in his quest for either the rotation opening or the last spot in the bullpen. He allowed three runs on four hits in 2 1/3 innings last Saturday against the Phillies, but he bounced back with 2 1/3 innings of one-hit ball on Tuesday against the Nationals.
It's unclear how much the Tigers will stretch out all three pitchers, as the game notes also list Phil Coke and Joaquin Benoit among the scheduled pitchers for that day.
Tigers option Crosby to Toledo
LAKELAND, Fla. -- The competition for the fifth starter is officially down one contestant. The Tigers announced after Thursday's 4-2 win over the Orioles that they've optioned Casey Crosby to Triple-A Toledo, and he'll open the season in the Mud Hens' rotation.
Crosby, a highly touted prospect before injuries took some toll, went to camp coming off a promising recovery season in 2011. He allowed three earned runs on six hits over 6 2/3 innings this spring, with six walks and five strikeouts. Most of the damage against him came in the last couple of outings, though he made quite a recovery against the Mets on Wednesday to finish strong.
"Casey Crosby has, to me, as high of a ceiling as anybody we've got in camp, [of the] Minor League guys," manager Jim Leyland said. "He's a potential blue-chipper."
The decision to send him to Toledo, Leyland said, came during a Thursday meeting with team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski and coaches.
"We said, 'Let's get him [in Minor League camp], because innings are going to be scarce here,'" Leyland said.