02/15/2013 5:30 PM ET
Leyland relishes target on Tigers' back
By Jason Beck / MLB.com
LAKELAND, Fla. -- On the day of his speech to the full squad, Tigers manager Jim Leyland touched on the usual topics. He wants players to be on time. He wants them to embrace expectations. He wants them to work hard, but also work smart.
Then he made the big point he told reporters earlier: The Tigers are a target.
He wants that to be seen as a good thing.
"I love being a target," Leyland said on Friday. "That means we have a good team."
That means expectations are high for what the Tigers can do, not just among Tigers fans, but around baseball. That means opponents viewing the Tigers as the team to knock off.
"What I meant by it," Leyland said, "is other teams are going to get sick of reading about how good of a team the Tigers have. I mean, I would. So I just want to warn guys: Don't get wrapped up in all this, because there's going to be stuff that comes out that's going to tick a lot of other teams off. And it's not our fault. It's just the way it is.
"We have a good team, so people are saying we have a good team. But if I'm sitting, say, in Kansas City, I'm saying we have a pretty good team, too. Chicago, we're pretty good, too. And all these other teams. You're either the hunted or you're the hunter. We're going to be the hunted, because we were the winner. We were the American League champions. That's a good thing, but my point to all the guys is how you handle that is important."
Early indications suggest a lot of people will be writing about the Tigers this spring. A different national writer has been in camp every day this week, a rare stretch for this early in camp. Leyland, who said at the start of camp that he wasn't going to give daily updates on Bruce Rondon, has nonetheless had to answer a different question about Rondon every day this week.
One, he said, came from a reporter who called him "coach" and asked him what he thought of Rondon as the closer so far.
All those questions from all those reporters turn into a lot of copy to read, and a lot of potential headline material to post.
Leyland's point: Don't make too much of it.
"Clippings mean nothing," Leyland said. "They don't win squat."
Alex Avila, for one, likes being the hunted. Moreover, he doesn't think it's any different from the last couple of years.
"Every year since I've been here, I've always felt that way, that we were always the team to beat," he said. "Because I've always felt that we've had the talent to not only get to the playoffs, but to win a World Series. Obviously, every year, it seems like we've gotten a little bit better. It seems like every year we've not only gotten a little bit closer, but we've improved the team a little bit.
"I think just the success that we've had since 2006, the success that the Tigers have had, I think we've always been the team to beat the last few years for sure."
Damp weather forces Tigers back indoors
LAKELAND, Fla. -- A second consecutive day of damp, dreary weather forced the Tigers indoors for much of their first full-squad workout on Friday morning. The only real activity outside took place on the bullpen mounds at the back of Tigertown, where pitchers threw their scheduled side sessions.
That was a sign of progress over Thursday, when pitchers had to throw in the batting cages. With hitters now taking part in workouts, the cages are busy, though pitchers did use them to work on pitchouts. Miguel Cabrera also used the cages to work on ground balls with infield coach Rafael Belliard.
New third-base coach Tom Brookens used the day to get an early jump on teaching signs. That usually doesn't take place until later in camp, when the roster has been whittled down.
"You make the best out of a rainy day," Leyland said. "The whole key to it is the cooperation of players, and they were great. Everybody knew where they were supposed to be and did what they were supposed to do. Hopefully, tomorrow we'll be on the fields."
The forecast calls for dry weather into the middle of next week, though the next few days will be cooler than they have been.
Worth could add versatility to outfield situation
LAKELAND, Fla. -- Tigers president/general manager Dave Dombrowski was going over his team's options for a right-handed hitter to help in the outfield earlier this week. Danny Worth's name came up.
"Worth has played some outfield," Dombrowski said last weekend.
Technically, Worth played only one game in left field last summer for Triple-A Toledo. He did so, however, after working in the outfield with Tigers outfield instructor Gene Roof. It was more than a spur-of-the-moment move on a shortened Mud Hens roster.
That's worth keeping in mind as the Tigers try to figure out a right-handed hitting complement to Andy Dirks in left field, at least in a backup role.
In past years, Detroit had the luxury of super utility players who hit from the left and right sides of the plate with Don Kelly and Ryan Raburn, respectively. With Raburn now in Indians camp, only Kelly remains, and he's on a non-roster invite.
Manager Jim Leyland said on Friday he isn't worried about versatility on the roster.
"I think we've got that in camp," Leyland said. "I'm not really worried about that. I don't know how it's going to play out in left field exactly, but I think we've got pretty good versatility. I think we definitely will have by the time we break camp."
Back-to-back MVPs in same camp a rare feat
LAKELAND, Fla. -- The Tigers achieved a little piece of history on Friday when Miguel Cabrera reported to camp with the full squad, including Justin Verlander. With that, Detroit had the last two American League Most Valuable Players in the same camp.
Not since the 1983 Brewers, who had Robin Yount and Rollie Fingers, had an AL team boasted that with two different players. The 1995 White Sox went to camp with Frank Thomas coming off back-to-back AL MVP honors.
The 2008 Phillies were the last National League team to do it with two different players, Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins. The 2010 Cardinals had two-time reigning NL MVP Albert Pujols.
The feat begged the question what the Tigers could do to top that.
"With our team, my money might be on Prince [Fielder]," Alex Avila said.
Avila wasn't predicting anything, he cautioned. The way Fielder hits, though, Avila wanted to make the point that he's capable of earning MVP honors. He finished third in NL MVP voting in 2007 and 2011, and placed ninth in votes last year.