Cabrera muscles up in Tigers debut
Third baseman leads off fifth with first homer for Detroit
DETROIT -- When the Tigers played their first game of Spring Training in February against Florida Southern College, Miguel Cabrera wowed the crowd with a mammoth home run off the backdrop behind the center-field wall in his first at-bat. Teammates estimated it as a 470-foot blast.
His home run in his first regular-season game didn't have quite the same distance, but it had some of the same impact. And it wasn't just on the sellout crowd that packed Comerica Park.
"He hit that thing and you just knew," center fielder Brandon Inge said. "You have to be a pretty big boy to get the ball out today."
Though he committed a first-inning throwing error, Cabrera's solo homer leading off the fifth inning served as the lasting image of his first real game with the Detroit Tigers. He had received a decent, but not overwhelming, ovation from fans when he was introduced during pregame ceremonies. Louder cheers came when he stepped to the plate.
"That was nice," Cabrera said. "It's different. A lot more people."
The loudest came when he made contact with Gil Meche's offspeed pitch on a 2-1 count leading off the fifth. The ball jumped off of his bat on a line and sailed over the bullpen dugouts beyond the left-field fence. It had too much power and too little altitude to be altered by winds that were blowing in from right.
In fact, the ball cleared the bullpen itself, landing in the left-field seats.
"I tried to trade five baseballs out of our baseball bag for his first home-run ball, and nobody would do it," closer Todd Jones said. "So I guess it'll be on eBay tomorrow. So the bid's higher than five baseballs for sure."
It was a good memory for a good first day, but it didn't have the result Cabrera desired. He went 1-for-5 on the day with two strikeouts, and the Tigers lost their season opener.
"We expect more," Cabrera said. "That's not the best game we played today. We played all right, but we didn't play the game we can play. We'll come back [Wednesday] and see what we can do."
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.