Santiago stresses importance of sunglasses
Shades may have prevented Cabrera from serious injury
LAKELAND, Fla. -- Ramon Santiago looked out at an empty Joker Marchant Stadium, sunshine reflecting off the silver seat decals on a clear Wednesday morning, which presented one of the main reasons why he likes to wear sunglasses playing in the infield during day games.
"For myself, I recommend them, because [of the brightness] of the seats," Santiago said. "You see the seat? You see the bright? That's bad for us, because that's the background. With glasses, you don't see it like that."
When the seats aren't completely filled for, say, a sunny Thursday afternoon game at Comerica Park, he'll have to battle the decals. When the seats are filled, he said, he'll be fighting himself to pick out the ball from the backdrop of fans in white summer shirts.
Guarding his face has never been one of his reasons. But he's sure glad it worked out that way for Miguel Cabrera.
"We didn't expect that to happen when we talked about glasses," Santiago said. That was his guard. If you look now, it was very important that he got the glasses, or I don't know, maybe he doesn't have an eye today. As hard as the ball bounced, man, he didn't have time for nothing. It was scary, man."
Santiago doesn't want to take credit for it, or suggest he talked Cabrera into getting sunglasses. He just relayed the way he feels about them, why he's one of the few in baseball who will wear sunglasses basically whenever he's on the field during a day game when the sun's out.
"You play six night games and you play a day game, the brightness can get to you," Santiago said. "I've got sensitive eyes, so I have to wear them. So what I try to do is wear them all I can in day games.
"I always hit with them. Sometimes, I don't play with them, but most of the time I hit with them and play defense with them, so I'm protected."
Others include Blue Jays All-Star Jose Bautista, though he spends most of his time as an outfielder and plays just sparingly at third base these days.
Cabrera had talked with Santiago about that around the time a representative from one of the sunglass manufacturers, Oakley, came into camp for an annual visit to gather product orders.
"I said, 'Hey, this is your guy right here,'" Santiago recalled. "And he went there, talked to the guy, and got a couple pairs of glasses. ...
"So Miggy started using them and he was feeling good. He can hit anyway, but he was feeling comfortable. The thing was, he didn't know if he was going to be able to see the ball OK with the glasses."
After Monday's scare, it's likely Cabrera's feeling very comfortable with them on.
"Thank God he was wearing them," Santiago said, "because it was going to be right in the eye."
Turner improving, throws side session Friday
LAKELAND, Fla. -- Jacob Turner, sidelined for the past week with tendinitis in his right shoulder, played catch for the second straight day Wednesday, this time from 150 feet. He'll have Thursday off before throwing a side session in the bullpen on Friday.
Turner will be re-evaluated from there and get another timetable, which should get him back on the mound soon barring setbacks.
"I'm happy that my arm's feeling good right now," Turner said. "That's what I'm happy about."
At this point, his health is the main thing to be happy about. With Andy Oliver, Drew Smyly, Duane Below and Adam Wilk further along with their buildup toward the start of the season, manager Jim Leyland said Turner is "very unlikely" to make the Opening Day roster.
Alburquerque may begin throwing program
LAKELAND, Fla. -- Tigers reliever Al Alburquerque continues to work on lifting as he works his way back from surgery on his right elbow. He's expected to undergo a follow-up exam at the end of the month, including another CT scan on his elbow.
Assuming that shows no problems, he should be cleared to begin a throwing program then.
"Once we see healing, then [we can go ahead]," Tigers head athletic trainer Kevin Rand said.
Alburquerque continues to aim for a return around the All-Star break.
Inge back at hot corner, if just for a day
LAKELAND, Fla. -- After a month of work at second base, trying to convince Tigers officials that he can man the position for the first time in his career, Brandon Inge was back at third base for a day.
With Miguel Cabrera out, Inge started at third Wednesday against the Twins. But don't expect to see him there often as Spring Training unwinds, manager Jim Leyland said.
"A lot? No," Leyland said. "Don't read anything into that. He could go over there on Christmas Day and play third base. I just put him over there today for one reason, to get him a couple at-bats."
As Leyland explained, he's trying to get Inge as many at-bats as possible. It's his hitting that will be judged moreso than his fielding, because the Tigers have seen enough to know he can play second base as well as third.
Inge went 1-for-2 with a single, raising his average for the spring to .219. He was also 1-for-2 in the field, throwing out Joe Benson on a second-inning ground ball before sailing a throw two batters later that allowed Alexi Casilla to reach base on the error.
It was Inge's first error of the spring, having gone errorless at second base.
Jackson takes green light and runs with it
LAKELAND, Fla. -- Little more than an hour after manager Jim Leyland talked about Austin Jackson having the green light on the basepaths, Jackson took it and turned it into a run.
It's something Jackson wants to work on as Spring Training reaches its latter stages.
"I wanted to kind of work on getting breaks [off first base] and discussed it [with first-base coach Tom Brookens], just talking about working on it," Jackson said. "It's just kind of [to] get a feel for it before the season starts."
Jackson has had deep at-bats and high strikeout totals all spring. On Wednesday, he was standing on second base two pitches into the bottom of the first inning. He singled to left on the first pitch he saw from Twins starter Liam Hendriks, then stole second base on catcher Ryan Doumit on the very next pitch.
Jackson wants to get his timing down on base. Still, don't expect him to transform the Tigers into a big basestealing team anytime soon.
"I know they've been on me for six years up there [that] we don't run enough," Leyland said before the game. "That's not the type of team we are. I can assure you, if I start getting guys thrown out trying to steal bases with Cabrera and Fielder and Delmon Young coming up, your readers are going to be a little more ticked off than they are for us not running."
Leyland announced that Duane Below will start Sunday's split-squad game against the Yankees in Tampa. Justin Verlander will stay home to start against the Phillies at Joker Marchant Stadium.
Rick Porcello threw 5 2/3 scoreless innings on one hit with a walk and six strikeouts Wednesday for the Tigers' Triple-A squad in a Spring Training game against the Nationals' Triple-A affiliate at Tigertown. Porcello, who was bumped to the Minor League side for a day to get his innings while allowing Andy Oliver to start for Detroit, threw 88 pitches in the outing.
Brent Dlugach, the former Tigers infielder who came back to the organization on a Minor League deal in the offseason, played the final four innings Wednesday. So did another former Tigers shortstop prospect, Michael Hollimon, who came back to organized baseball in the Twins' organization last year.