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Debut an 'amazing day' for Rodriguez

MLB.com @beckjason

DETROIT -- Ronny Rodriguez was still soaking in the glory of hitting for the cycle when he received the phone call from Triple-A Mud Hens manager Doug Mientkiewicz. The ticket to Detroit he received made his day even better.

"I was in my room and I got the call," Rodriguez said. "It was my dream come true. I've been waiting for a long time."

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DETROIT -- Ronny Rodriguez was still soaking in the glory of hitting for the cycle when he received the phone call from Triple-A Mud Hens manager Doug Mientkiewicz. The ticket to Detroit he received made his day even better.

"I was in my room and I got the call," Rodriguez said. "It was my dream come true. I've been waiting for a long time."

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Less than 24 hours later, he was standing at first base at Comerica Park, having legged out an infield single in his first Major League at-bat. Standing next to him was Albert Pujols, whom Rodriguez watched growing up.

"I said that I was watching him on TV, and now I'm here with him," Rodriguez said. "He said, 'Welcome to The Show.'"

It was a long time coming.

"Amazing day," Rodriguez said. "I've been waiting for this the last eight years."

Rodriguez had waited through two full seasons at Triple-A Columbus in the Indians' farm system. He watched Jose Ramirez emerge from a versatile infielder to a superstar, watched Michael Martinez get repeated chances in Cleveland, then saw fellow super-utility prospects Erik Gonzalez and Gio Urshela got long looks by the Tribe. Rodriguez then took advantage of his first big league at-bat in Thursday's eventual 6-2 win, legging out an infield single in the first inning off the Angels' Andrew Heaney. He then came around to score as part of the Tigers' 5-run frame.

Video: LAA@DET: Rodriguez legs out first career MLB hit

If Rodriguez wanted to break into the big leagues, he realized last offseason he'd have to find a new club as a Minor League free agent, which led him to Detroit.

"This team is rebuilding here, so they called in the offseason when I was in the Dominican," Rodriguez said. "I think I made the right decision now that I'm here."

It took a while, thanks in part to the Spring Training emergence of Niko Goodrum. But a .383 average and 1.078 OPS for the Mud Hens in May -- and a contractual opt-out clause looming -- left the Tigers having to decide whether to bring Rodriguez up or risk losing him.

Video: LAA@DET: Gardenhire on Rodriguez's debut, injuries

"This guy deserves a chance," manager Ron Gardenhire said.

The timing, right after hitting for the cycle, couldn't have been better.

"That was crazy, because it was my first time hitting for the cycle as a professional," Rodriguez said. "Then I received that call. I was going crazy. The first thing I did was pick up the phone and call my mom.

"When I called my mom, she was working in the factory. I said, 'Hey, you're done with the job.'"

With his mother, girlfriend, aunt and cousin in the stands, Rodriguez barely missed a home run his first at-bat, his drive down the left-field line hooking foul. His ensuing chopper left third baseman Jefry Marte with no play, continuing a two-out rally in a five-run opening inning.

Rodriguez sent a ground ball through the left side his next time up in the third. He finished 2-for-4, starting at second base but moving to third after Jeimer Candelario left with a left hand contusion.

"Pretty happy kid, man," Gardenhire said. "If you could ever draw it up, that's what your first day in the big leagues might be like. He had a great day. He was so excited to be here."

Video: LAA@DET: Rodriguez dives for a dazzling stop in debut

Injury updates

Leonys Martin was unavailable for Thursday's game. Gardenhire said the speedy center fielder was having fluid drained from his left leg, where a strained hamstring behind his knee forced him onto the 10-day disabled list earlier this month.

"They needed to do it today to get some of the inflammation out that's been lingering," Gardenhire said. "He feels great. He's had no problems with his leg, but the doctor said this is the best thing for it."

Miguel Cabrera will take batting practice, run the bases and field ground balls on Friday afternoon. If that goes well, the Tigers' slugger will likely to be activated from the 10-day DL in time for Friday night's series opener against the Blue Jays.

Alex Wilson said he's scheduled to throw live batting practice Friday afternoon, including fielding bunts off the mound to test the ruptured plantar fascia in his left foot. If that goes well, the right-handed reliever will go on a rehab assignment with Toledo next Tuesday.

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

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