LAKELAND, Fla. -- Prince Fielder finally got to do what he couldn't as a kid. He took a big hacking swing on the field at Joker Marchant Stadium. The result was fittingly dramatic.
"As long as it's not caught, I'm happy," Fielder said of his first home run in a Tigers uniform.
The Tigers had nine homers from eight different players, including two from Ryan Raburn, in their 18-3 win against the Braves on Sunday. A gusty wind blowing across the outfield and out to right helped quite a few of them along. Fielder's shot, though, was a no-doubter from contact.
He pulled a fastball from Julio Teheran, the No. 4 prospect in all of baseball according to MLB.com, and sent a liner off the light pole in right field. The ball hit at almost the same height as the scoreboard to the center-field side of it. Without the wind, he might have had a chance to knock out a bulb or two on the board, which would've been the only power outage on a day like this.
"It's pretty simple today," manager Jim Leyland said. "They could've gotten the ball up in the air to right field. They didn't. We did."
It was a little more complicated than that, but it had that feeling.
"After batting practice, I thought there would be a lot of home runs. But I've never seen anything like this," said catcher Alex Avila, who hit a tape-measure home run to near straightaway center field, just to the right of the batting eye.
Fielder isn't ceding anything to the wind.
"Nah, none of them are wind-aided," he said with a smile. "It's not our fault. I didn't tell the wind to do that."
Miggy misplays first spring grounder at third
LAKELAND, Fla. -- Miguel Cabrera waited a game and a half into the Grapefruit League schedule for his first big league ground ball at third since 2008. Give him credit, he's patient.
As it turns out, he wasn't patient enough once he got it.
"I got in front of it. I wanted to take it too quick to my glove," Cabrera said of the fourth-inning ground ball that led to his first error of the spring. "That's what I want to learn."
In hindsight, Cabrera said, he should've taken his time. The hitter, Brandon Hicks, has above-average speed, but he wasn't out of the box quickly. Cabrera was quick moving to his left to cut off the roller before it got into the hole. Cabrera had time, he suggested, to keep his glove down longer and still make the play.
Still, his positioning to get his body behind it was a positive.
"I was fine getting to that ground ball," he said. "I felt good about getting in front because it was on my left side and I was able to move my feet very good. I'll keep working in order to make that play."
Cabrera is expected to be back at third for his third straight game Monday against the Blue Jays at Joker Marchant Stadium.
Hoffman hit with liner, but finishes the play
LAKELAND, Fla. -- It was about as far from a save situation as Matt Hoffman could get, entering to pitch the ninth inning of an 18-3 game on Sunday. It still ended up being a memorable outing for the fans who were still at Joker Marchant Stadium.
Hoffman won't soon forget it. He'll have a swollen right knee to remember it by.
That came courtesy of Braves Minor Leaguer Evan Gattis, who sent a one-out liner back up the middle. The ball hit Hoffman flush in the knee and bounced all the way to the first-base line. Hoffman, aching knee and all, not only ran it down but made an off-balance throw to first baseman Don Kelly for the out.
"He got hit right inside above the knee there," manager Jim Leyland said. "He got smoked pretty good."
With one out to go, Hoffman stayed in the game. An Argenis Diaz error and a two-out single kept the game going until Hoffman made a behind-the-back grab to snare Josh Wilson's comebacker.
Raburn's two homers an encouraging sign
LAKELAND, Fla. -- Nothing would encourage the Tigers more about Ryan Raburn than a good start. A two-homer game in his first Grapefruit League action certainly won't hurt.
Wind-aided or not, Raburn was hitting with authority. His one-out blast off Braves prospect Julio Teheran in the second inning was hit more on a line, though it still benefited from the 30-mph winds to right to get over.
He said he wasn't sure whether it was headed out.
"Oh, I don't know," Raburn said. "I hit it good. That's all that matters -- squaring balls up. Whether it goes out or not, I'm not too worried about it. Yeah, it looks good in the box score, but right now I'm just trying to see some pitches and square them up."
He won't turn down the stats, either, certainly not the fifth-inning grand slam he slugged.
Raburn was the one Tiger to hit multiple homers on a nine-homer afternoon for the team.
"It's like our coaches said: The wind blows out during the season, too," Raburn said.