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Notes: Wilson pranks Gardy; Cron settles in

@beckjason
February 15, 2020

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Alex Wilson has already made his presence felt in his return to Tigers camp. It was felt throughout the clubhouse early Saturday morning when the air horn blared from manager Ron Gardenhire’s office. “First thing in the morning,” Gardenhire said. “Scared the [expletive] out of me. I

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Alex Wilson has already made his presence felt in his return to Tigers camp. It was felt throughout the clubhouse early Saturday morning when the air horn blared from manager Ron Gardenhire’s office.

“First thing in the morning,” Gardenhire said. “Scared the [expletive] out of me. I just got dressed, I put on my uni, I came and I sat down and then [I heard] a foghorn. I jumped straight back up in the air and I’m looking around. Scared the crap out of me.”

The sound came from beneath Gardenhire’s seat where Wilson had positioned a miniature air horn. Once the seat went down, the horn went off loudly enough to be heard throughout the clubhouse.

“All those guys out there heard it, so they were walking by my office with big smiles,” Gardenhire said.

Wilson and Gardenhire had an ongoing battle of practical jokes during their previous season together in 2018. Wilson, a Texas A&M graduate, decorated Gardenhire’s office in A&M gear around football season. Gardenhire, who played for the University of Texas, responded by decorating Wilson’s locker.

As soon as Wilson signed back with the Tigers last month on a non-roster invite, he had the seat gag in mind. Once Gardenhire joked earlier this week about Wilson’s degree from A&M, it was on.

“I had no clue,” Gardenhire said of the joke. “I knew nothing about it.”

Once Gardenhire realized what had happened, he decided he wouldn’t be the only one pranked Saturday. He called in hitting coach Joe Vavra from the batting cages.

“I told Vavra, ‘You have got to come in. My chair is so messed up in there. Tell me if you think it is, or if it’s just my back,’” Gardenhire said. “He sat down.”

Wilson did not spare his teammates. Matthew Boyd also had a surprise wakeup call when he sat down at his locker Saturday morning.

Wilson fully expects retaliation, certainly from Gardenhire. He won’t be hard to find, since he’s staying in a 42-foot travel trailer in the Joker Marchant Stadium parking lot.

“Wait until you see his motorhome in a few days,” Gardenhire said. “I’ve already put in an order. I’m getting the biggest set of longhorns you’ve ever seen and I’m going to bolt them onto that sucker.”

Cron makes himself at home
When first baseman C.J. Cron rolled into Tigertown on Saturday, he joined his fourth different Spring Training camp in as many years. This one, however, had a little more familiarity.

“It seems like everyone I meet coaching-wise is like, ‘Oh, I know your dad,’” Cron said. “Everyone knows my dad.”

Cron’s father, Chris Cron, worked in the Tigers' organization for three seasons as manager at Double-A Erie. Cron was in college by then, so he didn’t get to tag along, but he heard good things.

His task in this camp is not only to get to know his teammates, but to help set a tone in the clubhouse for a team coming off a 114-loss season. While Cron has bounced around teams in recent years, he was part of winning teams the last two years in Minnesota and Tampa Bay.

“Literally right when free agency started, [the Tigers] were one of the first teams to contact me,” Cron said. “They were super persistent throughout and explained to me that they don’t want to be as bad as last year. They want to make a step in the right direction. Sometimes rebuilding teams fail to do that; they fail to take that step to bring in a competitive nature. I think it’s super important. I think the team’s ready for that next step, and I’m excited to be a part of it.”

Quick hits
• Sunday is reporting day for Tigers position players but most have already shown up. The team expects everyone in camp for the first full-squad workout Monday morning except for second baseman Jonathan Schoop, who is likely to arrive a couple days later while handling a visa delay in his native Curacao.

Michael Fulmer said Saturday he hopes to begin throwing off a mound in mid-March as he progresses back from Tommy John surgery.

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason.