04/04/12 7:20 AM ET
Below back after short stay in Toledo
By John Wagner / Special to MLB.com
Less than 24 hours later, the smile was real.
That's because Below joined the Tigers when Detroit called him up to replace injured right-hander Luis Marte. As a result, Below moved from the home clubhouse to the visiting clubhouse at Fifth Third Field when the Tigers came to Toledo for an exhibition game.
More importantly, the lefty will spend opening day Thursday at Comerica Park rather than Friday with the Mud Hens.
And that's a move Below said he won't complain about.
"I unpacked my bags [Tuesday] and started to get comfortable in Toledo," he said. "Then I got called up, so I had to pack my bags up and come over to this clubhouse.
"I'm excited to be back over here. Now I'm going to continue to work to make sure I get to where I want to be."
Below said he hasn't been able to find out what plans Detroit manager Jim Leyland has for him at the start of the season.
"I said good morning to him when I got in, but we haven't had a chance to talk," Below said. "I'm sure over the next couple of days we'll have a chance to talk and figure out what's going on."
During Spring Training, Below was a candidate for the fifth starter's job for the big club, but was edged out by fellow left-hander Drew Smyly.
Tigers top Mud Hens in final tuneup
TOLEDO, Ohio -- The Tigers sent 10 batters to the plate and scored five times in the third inning to claim an 8-3 victory in an exhibition game against the Toledo Mud Hens, the team's Triple-A affiliate on Wednesday, which was played in front of 12,000 fans at Fifth Third Field.
Detroit got six hits off Toledo's Fu-Te Ni, including RBI singles by Miguel Cabrera, Delmon Young and Alex Avila, as well as a two-run triple by Ryan Raburn.
Young and Avila both finished with two hits, a single and a double, in the Tigers' 15-hit attack.
Tigers starter Rick Porcello allowed seven hits and three runs in 4 2/3 innings, walking one and striking out two.
The victory over the Mud Hens capped the Tigers' exhibition season. Detroit finished with a 20-8 exhibition record, but those numbers didn't seem to impress Leyland much.
"I didn't pay much attention to our record," he admitted. "We did what I wanted us to do -- we were .500 or better -- but we got the guys ready, and that was the most important thing.
"But it doesn't matter what we did now, except that we got the team ready. Now we just play."
Catcher Gerald Laird seemed to injure himself running out a groundout in the eighth inning of Wednesday's exhibition game against the Toledo Mud Hens, slamming his helmet to the turf. He was replaced behind the plate by Curt Casali.
After the game Tigers officials called the injury "left-hamstring tightness," and both Laird and Tigers manager Leyland said they expect the catcher to be available for Thursday's game.
• Among the members of the Tigers' front office who made the trip with the team to Toledo were president and general manager Dave Dombrowski, along with assistant general manager Al Avila and Tigers Hall of Famer Al Kaline.
• The Tigers' roster was bolstered by the West Michigan Whitecaps, Detroit's low Class-A team in the Midwest League. The Whitecaps, who met at their Grand Rapids, Mich., home Tuesday, bussed after the game to open the season at Dayton.
• Among the familiar names on the Whitecaps were Colin Kaline, Al Kaline's grandson; Patrick Leyland, Jim Leyland's son; and Nick Avila, Al Avila's nephew and Detroit catcher Alex Avila's cousin.
• Leyland grew up in the Toledo suburb of Perrysburg, Ohio, which made the game a homecoming of sorts.
"A few of my friends were here, and that was nice," Leyland said after the game. "But this is a great working affiliate for us. If someone in Detroit stubs their toe in batting practice, if this team is home, I can get them [to Detroit] in 45 minutes. That works out pretty well."
Two other Perrysburg natives on the Tigers' staff are equipment manager Jim Schmakel and manager of baseball media relations Brian Britten.
John Wagner is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.