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03/06/11 6:08 PM ET

Holaday has great day in rare start for Detroit

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Split-squad games Saturday for Victor Martinez and Alex Avila helped earn Bryan Holaday the start behind the plate Sunday. It's a game he'll have a hard time forgetting.

Not only did Holaday hit a game-tying home run in the eighth inning, he threw out Wilson Valdez twice trying to steal second base to keep the Tigers within a run.

"What a day for the kid, huh?" manager Jim Leyland said. "I mean, what a thrill. He's a very talented guy. We like him a lot. We really like those young kids, and obviously he's one of them, and you saw why today. I mean, you couldn't have a better game than he had today. So impressive. He was the star of the day, without question.

"I'm really thrilled for him. He's a great kid."

The Tigers drafted Holaday in the sixth round last year after he won the Johnny Bench Award as the nation's top collegiate catcher at TCU. He's in camp as a non-roster invitee, mainly to help catch the numerous pitchers in camp during early workouts.

Coke handling ups and downs of starting

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Phil Coke didn't wait to see whether the drive from the Phillies' John Mayberry Jr. cleared the right-field fence on Sunday. He just called for a new ball and held out his glove. He had no visible frustration, no exasperation over a ball getting into the jet stream going out to right, no emotion.

Coke might have "one oar out of the water," as Tigers manager Jim Leyland put it, but he seems to have a grasp on what starting pitching is about. He's learning to turn the page.

"I can't allow that to affect me," Coke said. "Why I have to wait for the ball from the umpire to come back so long, I don't get. Out of everything, that's probably the only annoying part. He has to wait for the ball to go over the fence. But it's not about that pitch; it's about the next one."

Coke put an 0-2 count on the ensuing hitter, Robb Quinlan, and got a flyout to right. He got a 1-2 count on the next batter, Tagg Bozied, and dropped a curveball on the corner for a called third strike. After that, he settled in.

The home run was the lone score against Coke in his four innings. Other than that, he scattered three singles, didn't walk a batter and struck out one. Just as important, he felt like a starting pitcher.

"I'm finding it and it's coming quicker than I thought," Coke said. "That's a good thing. It's going to come back to me faster than it went away. It was going away slowly, as far as remembering how to do everything. I even questioned myself a little bit, wondering how I'm going to do this, remembering the process and keeping my cool, not letting things affect me.

"I gave up a huge bomb, and the next guy, see you later. I'm going to wear [those] guys the next inning, and wear you out the next inning. You have to limit the damage. ... The adrenaline isn't a factor like everybody's thinking it would be. It's not something that has to be at the forefront."

What impressed manager Jim Leyland was that Coke succeeded without having to hit top velocity.

"We're continuing to build guys up," Leyland said, "so that looked good. He was anywhere from 89 to 91 [mph], 90 most of the time. With his stuff, that's good. You're not going to see him like he was coming out of the bullpen, 94-95 at times. He's got a great arm, but when you start, it's going to be a little bit different. So we're real pleased with that. We're happy with the way he's going about his business."

At this rate, it appears Coke's starts won't be as big of a challenge as previously feared. His days in between starts are another question. After Leyland said last week that Coke is going to drive him crazy in the dugout, the pitcher had a quick answer for where he'll be.

"Guess where I'm sitting? Not too far out of earshot from Jim," Coke said.

Leyland had a snappy comeback ready.

"Cokey's not allowed in the bullpen or on the bench," Leyland said.

Perhaps he will be banished to the press box between starts.

"If he has a good year," Leyland said, "he's probably going to be very entertaining for you guys."

Guest managers have a ball with Tigers

LAKELAND, Fla. -- While the ice and snow continues in Michigan, Tom Lauzon of Shelby Township and Bob Adas of West Bloomfield were on the hot seat in Florida on Sunday. As guest managers for a day thanks to a Detroit Tiger Foundation auction they won last year, their record was on the line as the Tigers tried to muster a run against the Phillies.

"I gave them a team they can't mess up," real manager Jim Leyland quipped. "If they mess this up, they have to go back to the foot business."

Adas is a podiatrist. Lauzon works in the health care industry. They're both lifelong Tigers fans, and after bidding on the same package, they agreed to share the honor. They stood behind the cage with Leyland and hitting coach Lloyd McClendon during batting practice, brought out the lineup card before the game, spent the game in the dugout with players and coaches, and even talked with Leyland about putting on a hit-and-run or two.

"It was an incredible experience," Adas said. "It brings out the kid in everybody. It's a dream, even at 58 [years old]. It's amazing. The difference today is when you're looking at players, you're looking at kids, and when you look in the mirror, wow. But it's a thrill. And a win doesn't hurt."

Said Lauzon: "We were getting a little nervous near the end there. Because Jim was saying if we don't win the game, don't come back. But no, [it was an] excellent, excellent experience. ... Just sitting there, seeing it is a game with these guys, it's great to see how these guys really are all a team and how they work together. It was a great perspective from the dugout, just absolutely amazing."

Former top pick Anderson dedicates himself

LAKELAND, Fla. -- When Matt Anderson was a Tiger years ago, he became known for the crazy career ideas he'd come up with for when his baseball days were over. Now, after a couple years out of the game, the 34-year-old realized he doesn't want to do anything but baseball.

"I'm all baseball now," he said Sunday morning. "I realized the awesomeness of being able to come do this, and I'm not trying to branch out into anything else. I'm just trying to do this. This is what my focus is. This is what I love to do, and I'm going to do this as long as I can, and then think about other stuff. ...

"I've always loved baseball. I kind of got sidetracked a little bit, but now I'm on the autobahn of baseball, so it's cool."

After a couple years out of baseball and on his dairy farm in Kentucky, Anderson dedicated himself to one last shot at pitching. He went to Arizona to get back into shape, started throwing again and regained some life on the fastball that once hit triple digits. He topped out at 99 mph on the Joker Marchant Stadium radar gun in his ninth-inning appearance Sunday afternoon against the Phillies, but generally sat at 94-96. The 96 came on his final pitch, which Scott Thorman lined into right field for a walk-off RBI single.

Anderson believes he will hit 100 again, the mark that made him such a highly valued pitcher and the first overall pick in the 1997 First-Year Player Draft.

"Oh, I know I will -- 100 percent. That's easy," Anderson said. "No, seriously, that's nothing. That's easy. I've got a lot more than that."

Quick hits

Officially, Magglio Ordonez is day-to-day with a left hamstring spasm he suffered Saturday morning. Unofficially, according to Leyland, "He's fine." Likewise, Ordonez indicated it's nothing serious and he isn't particularly worried about it. He took batting practice Sunday, but was held out of Sunday's game against the Phillies as a precaution, as was Brennan Boesch with a sore back. ... Andy Oliver and Jacob Turner will have their next outings against each other. They'll pitch in a camp game Thursday at 10 a.m. ET at Joker Marchant Stadium, just before the Tigers' coaching staff heads south to Jupiter, Fla., for that night's game against the Marlins. Leyland wants to give the two prospects enough innings to stretch out as starters, more than they could get continuing to pitch in regular games. ... Leyland threw out a ceremonial first pitch Sunday as part of the celebration of the Tigers' 75th Spring Training in Lakeland. Leyland was the Florida State League Manager of the Year here in 1977 and '78.

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


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