Originally posted on Fox Sports Detroit  |  Last updated 1/26/12
DETROIT Manager Jim Leyland confirmed that with the signing of Prince Fielder, Miguel Cabrera will return to his roots as a third baseman. Some speculated with the injury to designated hitter Victor Martinez that Fielder and Cabrera would split first base and designated hitter, but Leyland said that would not be the case. He said Cabrera would begin spring training as the everyday third baseman. "This is what I believe I have in Miguel Cabrera at third base. I think I have a tremendous set of hands that could actually play anywhere in the infield and catch a ground ball," Leyland said. "And I think I have one of the best arms in baseball. So what your concern is because of the size of Miguel, is his athleticism going to be as good coming in on bunts, is his range going to be maybe as good as some of the better third basemen? That's probably not going to happen. But when he gets himself at the weight that he wants to be at, I think his first step is very quick." Leyland also confirmed that once talks with Fielder's agent, Scott Boras, became serious over the weekend, he called Cabrera to see how he would feel about the move. He said Cabrera was "100 percent on board and feels real good about it." Not so excited perhaps was Brandon Inge, who had stated emphatically during the Winter Caravan last week that he planned to be the everyday third baseman and did not want to platoon with Don Kelly. "I have also spoken to Brandon Inge, who I basically apologized to that this got on the airwaves obviously prior to us wanting it to," Leyland said. "I'm sorry he had to hear it other than from the horse's mouth but at that particular time, I was not at any liberty to discuss this whatsoever. So I've talked with Brandon. He's not the happiest camper. He certainly understands." With ground-ball pitchers such as Doug Fister and Rick Porcello, however, Leyland said those would be some of the times when Inge would start at third and either Fielder or Cabrera would serve as the designated hitter. Other than that, the DH will probably rotate around. "During the course of a season, there are days when players have a nagging injury where you'd like to give them a little blow but you still want their bat in the lineup," Leyland said. "We're going to have tremendous flexibility with this roster. It's going to be a very fun roster to manage. "I don't think the DH is going to be any problem. I could give you several different ways I could go today. I've written down many, many lineups already and it's amazing because in every lineup I've written down so far, Cabrera and Fielder are in that lineup. "The plan right now is to have (Austin) Jackson lead off, (Brennan) Boesch hit second, Cabrera third, Prince fourth, Delmon (Young) fifth, (Alex) Avila sixth, (Jhonny) Peralta seventh, (Andy) Dirks(Clete) ThomasKelly eighth and (Ryan) Raburn ninth. Pretty hard to mess that one up." No kidding. It might have started as a joke but it quickly became reality. John Westhoff, the Tigers vice presidentbaseball legal counsel, was speaking with Boras about Max Scherzer's contract when Westhoff kiddingly asked if Fielder would be interested in a one-year deal. Boras responded in kind, saying, "He would, for nine years." Then last Thursday Dombrowski told him to call Boras back and ask him seriously about it. Westhoff was asked about how this deal ranked in terms of stunning ones he's done with the Tigers. "It's the top for me," Westhoff said. "Only because the process was so short. We went from, 'that's a good name, that would fix our needs,' to 'wait, we're going to sign him.' I don't think I really saw it happening at first. The financial investment was enormous." Even Fielder was surprised. "Just because I never thought I'd be able to come here," Fielder said. "Cause Miguel is an awesome player and I didn't really think about me coming here and having us switch around. But I'm glad they thought about it." Fielder has fond memories of Detroit. "Of course, coming here pretty much every day with my dad and taking batting practice," Fielder said. "Getting thrown in trash cans by Tony Phillips and Pete Incaviglia, Tony giving me candy on the side because my dad said not to go in there. There's a lot of good memories. "Hopefully I can give those to my two boys, because those memories have actually helped me, especially in professional baseball, seeing how all these guys that I thought of as super heroes, how much they were having fun playing baseball, having fun just like I was at 12. It helped me a lot and showed me what I really wanted to do as far as a job." Fielder also remembers other fun things from his visits to Tiger Stadium. "For me, it was always Sparky saying I was going to pinch hit," Fielder said. "I really believed him. I really thought I was going to go in." And when he realized Anderson was kidding? "I was really mad," Fielder said. "'Cause I asked my dad every day, 'Sparky said I was going to hit!' He was like, 'Yeah, OK, tomorrow.' That tomorrow was like five years, a couple years. So (I knew) it's not going to happen." And of course there's the home run he hit off the upper deck when he was 12. "I ran in and told everybody in the clubhouse," Fielder recalled. "Probably everybody in Michigan. I was definitely shocked." More than once, reporters gently asked Fielder about his strained relationship with his father, Cecil. Although Cecil Fielder told MLB Network Radio that he and his son were having some chats and things were better, Prince Fielder mainly deflected the question. "I'm just excited to be here," Fielder said. "I'm just looking forward to coming back where I grew up at. Fans are really excited and I'm just glad that they remembered me. I'm just glad I get to come back and play in front of the fans I grew up in front of."
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