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Collins makes impression with two extra-base hits

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Don't add Tyler Collins to the Tigers' outfield mix just yet. Unlike top prospects Nick Castellanos and Avisail Garcia, Collins got a full season at Class A Lakeland last year, putting him on track for Double-A Erie this year.

Still, of all the non-roster invites with no chance of making the team out of Spring Training, Collins might have the chance to make the biggest impression. With a diving catch, a triple, a double and the game's first run in Friday's 2-1 win over the Braves, his first impression is pretty well set.

Really, it was set before. Manager Jim Leyland had already remarked this week that Collins is an "all-out player."

Friday's performance did nothing to challenge that, nor did Collins' reaction afterwards.

"I only have one speed, guys. That's full speed," Collins said with a smile. "If I play full speed and leave it all out on the field, there's nothing else I can do. If they like what they see, then I'm going to continue to keep playing hard."

Almost as soon as Collins entered the game in right field in the bottom of the sixth inning, he was running down a shallow flare down the right-field line. Collins dove head first towards the line, keeping his glove off the ground to make the catch.

Two innings later, his leadoff triple not only gave Detroit its first hit, it also ignited the two-run rally that provided the difference in the game. Jeff Kobernus' ensuing triple allowed Collins to trot home instead of needing to slide.

The dirt stains had already set in by then.

"He's one of those guys that normally on any night, his uniform will be really dirty when the game is over," Leyland said.

Collins already had a little Spring Training experience, having been an extra player for a few games last spring. He stayed in Lakeland for the season and hit .290 with 35 doubles, 66 RBIs and 20 stolen bases in high Class A ball.

Like Andy Dirks, he's a left-handed hitter who can play around the outfield. Also like Dirks, he could take advantage of a strong Spring Training. For one day, though, he can just enjoy the spotlight.