DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Miguel Cabrera's swing looked like it was ready for games when he took his first batting practice Friday. Come Monday, he might well get his shot.
Monday is when Cabrera starts to stand a chance of making his Spring Training debut. It'll be a 1:05 p.m. ET home game against the Yankees, and it'll be after three days of workouts.
"Monday's more of a possibility [than Sunday]," manager Jim Leyland said. "But I'm not assuring you of Monday, either.
Cabrera did not accompany the Tigers to Dunedin for their Grapefruit League opener against the Blue Jays on Saturday. He stayed back at Joker Marchant Stadium for a day of hitting work under coach Lloyd McClendon.
2010 Spring Training - Detroit Tigers
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Spring Training Info
But Cabrera's swing isn't Leyland's concern. He's worried about the slugger's legs and getting them ready for game action.
"Truth be known, if I wasn't going to get second-guessed until the cows come home, I'd have played him today," Leyland said. "His bat might be a little slow, but you watch him take BP [Friday and he's ready]. I'm worried more about legs. He's worked his tail off in the offseason with agility and strength, but at the same time, it goes back to what I always say: That doesn't always correlate with baseball conditioning.
"I mean, if you want to say I'm protecting myself, I am. I'm not going to put him out there today and do some crazy. And I'm going to kind of get a feel from a bunch of people."
Leyland lauds late Tigers executive Lajoie
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Tigers manager Jim Leyland had to make a mad postgame dash down the highway Friday afternoon to get to Bradenton, Fla., in time for Bill Lajoie's memorial service, but said the service was "tremendous."
First-base coach Tom Brookens made the drive while Leyland was making last-minute tweaks to his speech. He wasn't first up to speak; Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein spoke just before him.
"There were a couple of things Bill was involved in that I think were pretty neat," Leyland said. "Obviously, the 35-5 start for the Tigers and running the table from beginning to end and winning the World Series. He, along with Sparky [Anderson], were obviously the architects of that team.
"But the other point I made is I'm not sure anyone in the history of the game has done this, all but one were done with one team: Bill was a player, he was a Minor League manager, he was a scout, he was a scouting director, he was the farm director, he was an assistant general manager, he was a [general] manager, and he was an advisor to a general manager. I don't think that's ever been done in the history of the game by one guy. And all but the player part was done in the Tiger organization. I thought that was pretty impressive."
Prospect Garcia impresses manager
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Tigers prospect Avisail Garcia went 0-for-1 in his official Spring Training debut Saturday, but his ability to nearly beat out a routine grounder to short still made an impression for someone his size.
The 19-year-old Garcia stands 6-foot-4 and is listed at 232 pounds, but he still swiped 20 bases at Class A West Michigan last year with as many triples (four) as home runs. He isn't going to break camp with the big club, but he's going to make an impression before he leaves for Minor League camp.
"He's got a chance to be real special," manager Jim Leyland said. "Power and speed, that's a nice combination."
Players catch glimpse of Space Shuttle launch
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Tigers players aren't just about golf and fishing when workouts let out. When the last non-gameday workout let out Thursday, Brad Thomas and Joel Zumaya hit the highway separately towards Cape Canaveral, hoping to catch the final launch of the Space Shuttle Discovery that afternoon with their families.
Neither of them quite made it, though Thomas came close. After spending hours tied up in traffic on the highway headed east, Thomas had to pull off for a restroom break for his kids. They ended up finding a secondary road that led them towards Titusville, where they watched the launch from about 10 miles out.
Zumaya and his family didn't quite make it that far. They were still on the road when the launch approached, and were among the many to pull to the side of the road to watch it go up. Zumaya estimates they were about a half-hour away -- by normal traffic standards, anyway.
Two years after Cale Iorg had a three-error game in Dunedin, where his father, Garth, used to train for springs with the Blue Jays, the younger Iorg had five assists without an error Saturday as a late-inning replacement at shortstop. ... Manager Jim Leyland was praising Brad Penny's early-morning workout regimen when he was asked whether he likes the idea of Penny riding his bicycle to the ballpark in the mornings in Lakeland traffic. "Well, he probably looks bigger on a bike than a guy does in a semi," Leyland replied. ... Hall of Famer and part-time Lakeland resident Al Kaline will throw out the ceremonial first pitch Sunday against the Blue Jays as part of the Opening Day festivities for the Tigers' 75th Spring Training in Lakeland.