CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Miguel Cabrera still remembers his first callup to the big leagues. He was tearing up the Double-A Southern League for the Carolina Mudcats when he was pulled from a game in June 2003.
“That was a scary moment,” he recalled, “because they took me out of the game. I said, 'Oh, I might have done something really bad,' so they took me out. They told me after the game I was called up, and I was relieved.
“I was in the dugout, like, 'What did I do?' The manager didn't even talk to me, so [I thought] I might have done something wrong.”
Not until after the game did Cabrera learn the reason for the hook. So when he had a chance to play along with manager A.J. Hinch and GM Al Avila as they gave Spencer Torkelson the news on Saturday, he jumped in, critiquing a couple of misplays before giving an emotional Torkelson a bear hug once they let him know he was a Major Leaguer.
“It was a great moment,” he said. “To see his face, his emotion, it was a very emotional moment for me and for the guys in the room. I'm so happy for him, because he worked hard to be on the team and he made it."
Torkelson later said that Cabrera’s comments at the start of Spring Training, that he was willing to DH to open up first base, meant a lot to his confidence. Cabrera, however, said he wasn’t trying to give Torkelson a morale boost. He was just stating facts.
“I say that because we need him in the lineup,” Cabrera said. “If we want to win, we need him in the lineup, because he has the potential to be really good in the big leagues. He has the potential to be the man here in Detroit. If he spent one more year in the Minor Leagues, it's not going to help us. I think he's ready. I think he's going to be good and I think he's going to do a lot of things for us in Detroit.”
Cabrera was ready to say the same of Riley Greene before Greene's fractured right foot scuttled his chances of making the Opening Day roster.
“That hurt a lot, because I think he's ready too,” Cabrera said. “We have to wait two months now. But he's going to be with us when he recovers. I think he's going to be with the team. He deserves that. He had a great Spring Training.”
Mize deals with longball
In a normal, lengthy Spring Training, a starting pitcher usually has an outing he’d like to forget, either because he was working on something or his arm felt tired or his stuff simply didn’t click. For Casey Mize, that outing was Sunday, with three solo homers among the seven hits he allowed over 4 1/3 innings in an 8-7 loss to the Phillies.
“Execution as a whole has got to be much better,” said Mize, “but you have those days. Tough timing with it being the last [outing] right before the season. Had a pretty good camp, just not a great day today.”
Phillies hitters put 10 of Mize’s 36 fastballs in play, with an average exit velocity of 100.6 mph, according to Statcast. His velocity was down all across his arsenal.
“It wasn’t his best stuff or his best execution,” manager A.J. Hinch said. “He navigated the game the best he could. I’m really excited for his season, which is more important than any one outing.”
To that end, Hinch said, “Casey is as prepared on Day 1 as anybody that I’ve ever been around. … He came in [to Spring Training] ready to throw in games.”
• Right-hander Michael Pineda threw two innings in a Minor League game on Saturday. He’ll head in a couple of days to Triple-A Toledo, where he’s scheduled to start on Thursday for the Mud Hens as he stretches out his arm in preparation to join the Tigers rotation later this month.
• Right-hander Wily Peralta arrived in Tigers camp on Sunday. He’ll throw a bullpen session on Monday, then batting practice later in the week before pitching Minor League games for Single-A Lakeland, then Triple-A Toledo. The Tigers are planning to use him as a multi-inning reliever rather than a starter, so he shouldn’t need as many outings to ramp up.