03/17/11 7:43 PM ET
Raburn making a case for second base
By Jason Beck / MLB.com
Leyland said on Thursday that he would like to have a starting second baseman decided with a week to go in Spring Training, which would put his decision around early next week.
Even so, "It might not be announced then," Leyland said.
Ryan Raburn has been getting some starts there recently. With no starting second baseman determined, and with Leyland known to be open to putting a power hitter in the second spot, it wouldn't be a surprise if Raburn were there to open the season.
That doesn't mean Raburn is preparing to be a No. 2 hitter -- not the stereotype of one, at least.
"Honestly, I don't think I need to change my approach," Raburn said. "Yeah, I probably wouldn't be the prototypical two-hole hitter, but what got me here and what's been able to keep me a part of this team is driving the ball and doing what I do. If I start changing my swing now, that's totally different than what I've been doing.
"Of course, in certain situations, I'll have to take [a different approach]. Our job is to get on for Magglio [Ordonez] and Miguel [Cabrera] and stuff like that, but I think in the long run, I need to keep the same approach that I've got."
Raburn hit a solo homer and a single in a 2-for-5 outing on Thursday, raising his spring average to .313.
Cabrera shows no signs of letting up
LAKELAND, Fla. -- All those concerns about Miguel Cabrera's statistically slow start at the plate seem to be gone now.
A week ago, people wondered whether Cabrera's legal situation was weighing on him at the ballpark or whether his weight was a factor. But on Thursday, after he added another home run and a double to his recent hit parade through the Grapefruit League, Cabrera was asked if he's ready for the season to start right now.
He didn't go that far.
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"I'm feeling good," Cabrera said. "There's two more weeks left. I want to keep working hard. I want to keep battling at the plate and do whatever adjustments I have to do to be ready for the season. We're here to work hard and get ready for the season and try to be healthy and compete the best you can."
When Cabrera was 4-for-23 and homerless through a week of Spring Training games, he had a fair number of well-hit balls to right and center field that ended up knocked down by the Florida breezes or hit well within the range of the outfielder. He's hitting those pitches harder now, and as his timing has come around, he's pulling more of them with authority.
Both of his hits on Thursday were pulled. He hit a bouncer hard enough to skip past Twins third baseman Danny Valencia and into foul territory in left field, allowing him to leg out a first-inning double. After flying out to center in the third, he stepped up in the fifth against Pat Neshek and turned on a hanging fastball. The ball landed at the top of the left-field berm at Joker Marchant Stadium.
"He threw a lot of fastballs today," Cabrera said of Neshek. "He won't throw that during the season. I don't know what he tried to do. I don't know if he tried to command his fastball. But in the season, he'll be a lot different."
That's why Cabrera says that he has to keep working. As good as he has looked -- 13-for-25 with five doubles, three homers and eight RBIs over his last eight games -- he knows pitchers aren't taking the same approaches they'll have when the games count. That's part of why he wants to keep working on his swing, to be ready for the regular-season stuff.
He's taking that same approach on the basepaths, where his aggressiveness has been hard to ignore. His double was an extra effort to take second base, and he had an aggressive lead off the bag after that.
"It's the skipper. He always tells you to be aggressive on the bases," Cabrera said. "If you work here on that, in the season the game's going to come easy to you. If you take one extra base and you're going to be close here, in the season you know if you can take the base. Right now you have to try hard and see what happens. You know if you can do it."
Despite struggle, Penny where he wants to be
LAKELAND, Fla. -- Brad Penny hasn't been part of the Tigers-Twins rivalry, and he wasn't much concerned about it on Thursday. His focus was on getting in his work and executing some pitches, whatever the results. Still, his work on the inside part of the plate might have caught the Twins' attention, as well as the arms of Delmon Young and Alexi Casilla.
Both Young and Casilla eventually left the game as a precaution but are expected to be fine. Young appeared surprised to be lifted for a pinch-runner after he was hit in the third inning. Casilla took his base and stole second on the next pitch, taking an Alex Avila throw off his left leg in the process and swiping third on the bounce. He scored on Ben Revere's triple before exiting.
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire told reporters afterward that he was "disappointed" in the hit-by-pitches and removed Young and Casilla as a precaution.
Penny indicated that he was working on pitching inside. If he's going to succeed, he needs the inside command.
"I'm just trying to move their feet," Penny said. "If I hit them, I hit them. I don't want to miss over the plate."
Though Penny's numbers against the Twins don't stand out, with two hit batters, two walks, three hits and three runs allowed over five innings, he liked what he was able to work on, and he's where he wanted to be at this point in camp.
"I felt better this time out," he said.
Tigers change their 'stripes' for St. Pat's
LAKELAND, Fla. -- The Tigers have a tradition of wearing green caps for their annual St. Patrick's Day game. They also have a recent tradition of not deviating from their traditional home white and road gray jerseys for Spring Training games, even wearing them during many early camp workouts before games begin.
They took a break from the latter tradition on Thursday, wearing green and white batting-practice tops to go with the caps. It's believed to be the first time they've deviated from their traditional jerseys, other than the caps, since the early to mid-1990s, according to longtime clubhouse manager Jim Schmakel.
They weren't the only ones in different gear. Thursday's bat boys were dressed in leprechaun costumes, and BP music included a set of songs by the Dropkick Murphys.
A good portion of the crowd was dressed in green, but that might not have entirely been for the holiday. Michigan State was scheduled to play its opening game in the NCAA men's basketball tournament on Thursday night in Tampa, and more than a few Michiganders were expected to make a side trip.
Manager Jim Leyland was among the Tigers with tickets to the game.
"Michigan State and [head coach] Tom Izzo invited us," Leyland said. "They're really nice. I think it would be a sin for me not to go."
Former Tigers great and current part-time Twins broadcaster Jack Morris threw out a ceremonial first pitch on Thursday along with Lance Parrish. Given his significance in both Minnesota and Detroit lore, Morris was asked about the Twins. "They're going to hit the ball. They're going to score runs," Morris said. "The defense is going to be a little bit different [because of new personnel]." ... Victor Martinez remained out of the lineup on Thursday with a sore neck. He's considered day-to-day.