BRADENTON, Fla. -- Jim Leyland's return to the home of his first Spring Training as a manager set up the question of whether this could be his last spring in the big leagues. He isn't planning on it.
Asked by a writer how he wants to be remembered, Leyland was ready with a quip.
"I don't want to be remembered just yet," he said. "I plan on going for a while."
Leyland's future has not been a topic this spring. He has long since let it be known that he doesn't want to talk about his contract situation. Technically, he enters this spring with the same status he had a year ago, not being under contract beyond season's end.
Last year, it was the pressure of a contract year. This year, it has become the understanding that he's going to go one season to the next. Leyland's comments on Friday were similar to those he made when he signed the one-year extension last August.
"I don't want to be in anybody's hair," Leyland said, "and if I decide not to do it, then there's no issues whatsoever. If they get rid of me, they don't have to pay me for two more years, and if I decide I want to end it at the end of the season, I can end it. There's no strings attached."
He doesn't plan on ending it.
"I'm 67 years old. I feel great right now. I want to continue to do it," Leyland said. "A lot of that probably will depend on them, how we do. At this point in my career, I'm not worried about a long-term career. At one time, that was important, when you were fighting your tail off -- not that I'm still not fighting my tail off. I just think it's better for the organization. They don't have to worry about it.
"I think by taking a one-year thing, we kind of put a stop to the fact that I'm on the hot seat. I've been on the hot seat ever since I got here. I've been on the hot seat for 20 years managing in the big leagues. I don't really give a care about that. I don't consider myself on the hot seat, because I'm never going to change the way I manage. ... If they like it, that's fine. If they don't, they'll find somebody else."
Fister leaves game with soreness in finger
BRADENTON, Fla. -- Tigers right-hander Doug Fister left his start Friday against the Pirates in the fifth inning with what the team classified as right middle finger soreness. He's listed as day to day.
Fister had retired leadoff hitter Clint Barmes in the fifth and had thrown a pitch to pinch-hitter Yamaico Navarro when catcher Gerald Laird signaled for head athletic trainer Kevin Rand.
"I saw on one of the pitches, he kind of twinged on it," Laird said.
Manager Jim Leyland followed Rand to the mound and after a quick look at his right hand, pulled Fister from the game as a precaution.
"He was getting the ball up more," Leyland said.
Fister had been scheduled to throw about 75 pitches. He threw a little more than 60 pitches before being shut down.
Relief candidate Brayan Villarreal finished out the inning, completing Fister's pitching line with 4 1/3 innings on four hits with no walks and four strikeouts. The only damage off Fister was a two-run home run from Matt Hague.
Rand confirmed that the injury was not a blister. Rand and Leyland both said Fister has dealt with soreness in the finger before.
"But I learned a long time ago that there's no such thing as a minor injury," Leyland said. "We don't think [it's serious], but I pay serious attention to the smallest of things." Detroit has just under two weeks before opening its season April 5 against the Red Sox at Comerica Park, which should be plenty of time to get Fister back on the mound if it's nothing more than soreness.
Cabrera eager to get back on field
BRADENTON, Fla. -- Miguel Cabrera must be feeling good in his recuperation from his eye injury because he's ready to get back on the field, though the Pirates want to hold off.
"He wanted to come today. He told [team president/general manager] Dave [Dombrowski] he was ready to come play today," manager Jim Leyland said Friday morning before the Tigers matchup with the Pirates. "Obviously, we're not going to do that."
It doesn't mean the Tigers are moving up the timetable, Leyland cautioned. Cabrera will still be resting until the middle of the next week, and then be reevaluated. But Leyland said the reports he has received suggest Cabrera is doing better than many would have feared when they saw him take a high-hopper off his sunglasses Monday against the Phillies.
"I saw a picture of him yesterday on [head athletic trainer] Kevin [Rand's] phone. He looks great, feels great, no pain, swelling down, a little discolor yet," Leyland said. "We're going to take all precautions, but he feels good."
Tigers claim De La Cruz
BRADENTON, Fla. -- The long and winding road of lefty reliever Kelvin De La Cruz is taking him to Double-A Erie. The Tigers have claimed the 23-year-old swingman pitcher off waivers from the Indians and optioned him, his third move between organizations this spring.
De La Cruz went 5-6 with a 4.19 ERA last year in the Indians organization, striking out 93 batters over 86 innings at Double-A Akron. Cleveland designated him for assignment last month to make room so sign free agent Casey Kotchman, leading to a trade to Texas Feb. 21.
The Rangers traded him back to the Indians on March 15 in exchange for cash, but Cleveland designated him for assignment on Wednesday, leading to his waiver claim by Detroit.
Erie could have a relatively talented rotation, depending on how the pitching staff shapes up at Triple-A Toledo. Drew Smyly's destination, in particular, is a mystery at the moment while he remains in the competition for the fifth starter spot in Detroit. The SeaWolves have benefited from strong swing starters the last few years.
Berry taking advantage of playing time
BRADENTON, Fla. -- Give credit to non-roster outfielder Quintin Berry: He's sticking around, and he's trying to make the most of his opportunity.
Barring injury, it probably won't end with him making the Opening Day roster. But the way he has played has left an impression on manager Jim Leyland.
"I don't know him very well. All I know is he can fly," Leyland said. "He's looked good. He's had a good spring."
His big contribution Friday was more power than speed, taking Daniel McCutchen's offering deep for a ninth-inning grand slam that punctuated Detroit's comeback and all but sealed the game with a six-run rally for a 7-2 win.
Berry said after the game that he's "trying to leave a good impression on the coaching staff and everybody, let them know that I want to play."
Asked if he thinks he has done that, Berry said, "I hope so. I'm hoping so. You can't tell what anybody's thinking, but you just keep doing what you can do, and hopefully they like it."
At the same time, Berry said he isn't trying to put pressure on himself, something he said he has done in previous stops when first joining an organization. He spent 4 1/2 years in the Phillies farm system before jumping to the Padres, then the Reds last year.
"I've been through situations before where I did put a lot pressure on myself, and it didn't really matter what I did," Berry said. "So after that, I just choose not to worry about it."
Turner has bullpen session without issue
BRADENTON, Fla. -- Jacob Turner threw a bullpen session Friday morning without problem and will likely throw another on Sunday before he takes the next step to try to get back into game action.
Turner, sidelined for the past week while recovering from tendinitis in his right shoulder, threw about 30 pitches in his session, according to Tigers pitching coach Jeff Jones. While the Tigers haven't set the schedule from there, he's expected to get a day of rest Saturday before likely repeating his bullpen.
At this point, he appears ticketed to begin the season in the Minors. Manager Jim Leyland repeated Friday that Turner appears unlikely to win the fifth spot in the Tigers rotation out of camp, having been sidelined with the injury.
• Leyland said that at some point before camp ends, he plans on trotting out his Opening Day lineup on a day when they're facing a left-handed starter. The Tigers will face Red Sox lefty Jon Lester on Opening Day in just under two weeks.
• The Tigers scheduled reliever Phil Coke to pitch in a minor-league game as he tries to get his innings in to be ready for the season. Coke, who pitched in an intrasquad camp game and another minor league game last week, has said that he struggles to get in his work without game intensity.