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Notes: Wilson's spring trailer; Ramirez hits? 

@beckjason
February 13, 2020

LAKELAND, Fla. -- The most talked-about Spring Training housing at Tigers camp has a back porch that looks out toward Joker Marchant Stadium. Its front window currently looks out to the Cirque Italia, at least until the traveling circus leaves town next week. A month or so after the circus

LAKELAND, Fla. -- The most talked-about Spring Training housing at Tigers camp has a back porch that looks out toward Joker Marchant Stadium. Its front window currently looks out to the Cirque Italia, at least until the traveling circus leaves town next week.

A month or so after the circus pulls out of Lakeland, so will reliever Alex Wilson’s current home. That’s the benefit of spending Spring Training in a 42-foot travel trailer.

“Honestly, I wish I would’ve done this when I first signed [as a pro],” Wilson said.

No, Wilson did not get the idea from teammate Daniel Norris. Though Norris became a Spring Training legend five years ago by living in his van during Blue Jays camp, the left-hander rents a home now. He finds Wilson’s trailer rather luxurious compared to his van, nicknamed Shaggy.

“It’s a lot nicer than what people think,” Wilson said.

By many standards, Wilson’s trailer is very comfortable. It has three king-sized beds, with a retractable bunk bed on one end and a regular bed on the other. It includes a couch and a workstation, where he can set up his computer and do his online studies for the master’s degree he is pursuing. It also has a kitchen and a TV.

“Honestly, I really enjoy just having my little space,” Wilson said. “It’s convenient.”

For the last couple of years, Wilson thought about buying a camper and staying in it for Spring Training. With his wife and children staying back home in Texas for most of camp to keep the kids in school, 2020 was his year to try it.

Wilson bought the slightly used trailer before he returned to the Tigers on a non-roster invite. Once his reunion with the Tigers was set, he worked out an arrangement with the front office to stay in the parking lot, complete with an electrical hookup.

Wilson’s challenge was getting it there. It required a 17-hour drive from his home near College Station, Texas, including three stops to refuel his truck.

What he didn’t realize, of course, was that the circus would be his neighbor for the first week. They’ll have performances through the weekend.

“They waited until 11:30 [p.m.] to try out the sound system, for whatever reason,” he said.

Once the Tigers break camp, Wilson will drive his trailer north and make it his regular-season home, whether that’s in Detroit or at Triple-A Toledo.

“It gives me a lot more freedom to stay where I want, stay in smaller places,” Wilson said. “And then, when my family does come, they’ll all be in there with me. I actually have three king-sized beds in there.”

He’ll have a camping area for that stretch, so don't look for him in the parking lot next to Comerica Park. Nor will he have a circus next door.

No two-way play for Ramirez ... yet

Nick Ramirez still has his first baseman’s glove with him from his time as a position player in the Brewers farm system from 2011-16. With 96 career Minor League home runs, the lefty pitcher is dangerous enough at the plate that Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire considered using him as a pinch-hitter more than once last year.

“You can’t believe how many times I’ve told him to go take a few swings in the cage -- when he was pitching,” Gardenhire said. “He can hit. He can pick it, too. He can play first base.”

Still, though the rules changes announced Wednesday by Major League Baseball provide roster flexibility for two-way players, Detroit has no immediate plans to try that with Ramirez. His last experience as a first baseman was a pair of starts in 2018 in the Brewers system.

The rules on qualifying as a two-way player for roster purposes are difficult. Players need at least 20 Major League innings pitched and at least 20 Major League games started at a position or DH, with at least three plate appearances in each of those games.

Ramirez said he’s willing to give it a try if the Tigers ever want him to, but that’s not in the plans. Ramirez could be an emergency option at first base or DH, especially during Interleague Play, but that’s about it.

“If you want to put a pinch-hitter up there and don’t want to use a bench guy, he would be the guy,” Gardenhire said.

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