LAKELAND, Fla. -- Much like he has every year, Al Kaline was in the outfield and in uniform when the Tigers began full-squad workouts a little more than a month ago, working with outfielders. In recent years, they weren't giving the Hall of Famer and 10-time Gold Glove Award winner
LAKELAND, Fla. -- Much like he has every year, Al Kaline was in the outfield and in uniform when the Tigers began full-squad workouts a little more than a month ago, working with outfielders. In recent years, they weren't giving the Hall of Famer and 10-time Gold Glove Award winner many questions, leaving him wondering if they were too afraid to ask. This year was different.
"That's one of the things that I really have enjoyed about this spring," Kaline said, "because the outfielders for whatever reason have now come and asked me questions. Because usually I say, 'Do I intimidate people?' I don't try to act like I'm something special. I'm here every day. I'm at Comerica Park every day. I sit in front of my locker. Guys seem to be intimidated. They don't even say hi to me anymore. This spring is a lot different."
Among the Tigers picking his brain this spring was a familiar face. But then, Nicholas Castellanos and Kaline have a history together.
Kaline worked with Castellanos as a prospect five years ago when the Tigers were first thinking of converting him to a left fielder, his path to playing third base in Detroit blocked at that point by Jose Cabrera. Now that Jeimer Candelario has taken over at third base and Castellanos, after four years at the hot corner, is a right fielder, he and Kaline have had a lot to discuss, from right field to hitting to life.
If Castellanos does not make it in right field, Kaline said, it won't be for lack of effort.
"He's embraced it 100 percent," Kaline said. "He really works his tail off. You can see it in batting practice. Everybody has to get away from him out there because he wants to shag everything he can get a hold of. He's really a hard worker.
"He's going to be a really good outfielder. He still makes some little mistakes, maybe making a bad throw here and there. But he's probably the most accurate thrower on our team right now for outfielders."
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Tigers outright Hardy to Triple-A Toledo
Though Niko Goodrum hasn't officially made Detroit's Opening Day roster, the Tigers needed to clear a 40-man roster spot to add the non-roster invitee, or anyone from outside their camp. Detroit took care of that procedural move Sunday by outrighting the contract of lefty reliever Blaine Hardy to Triple-A Toledo.
Hardy had to clear waivers in order to be moved. The veteran southpaw entered big league camp as a bullpen candidate, but he missed the first few weeks of the Grapefruit League with shoulder inflammation. The Tigers optioned him to Toledo on Thursday; he would've had to go on waivers shortly after that in order to clear. Hardy cleared waivers Sunday.
Hardy avoided arbitration last fall with a one-year, $795,000 contract.
Tigers general manager Al Avila said the team is "very close" to finalizing the roster, but the final roster moves won't happen until after the team works out on Wednesday at Comerica Park, just before the roster deadline.
Avila said the Tigers continue to scour the waiver wire and market of recently-released players.
"You look at that all the way through the end," Avila said, "so we have two more days to go. I wouldn't say it's probable, but it's possible."
Pitchers Mike Fiers (back) and Johnny Barbato (elbow) are scheduled to pitch in a Minor League Spring Training game on Tuesday. Both are expected to open the season on the disabled list.
Daniel Norris, who's expected to fill Fiers' rotation spot, is scheduled to stay back for an extra day and start in a Minor League Spring Training game on Wednesday before heading north to Detroit to join the club for Opening Day festivities. The start keeps Norris on turn for when the Tigers need a fifth starter April 3 or 4.
The Tigers wrap up the Grapefruit League season and the Lakeland portion of their Spring Training schedule on Monday in a 1:05 p.m. ET game against the Rays at Joker Marchant Stadium, part of a home-and-home set with Tampa Bay to close out the spring. Francisco Liriano will make his final tuneup opposite Nathan Eovaldi. Watch the game on MLB.TV.
Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.