Lakeland, Fla. -- The baseball gods who control injuries owe Clete Thomas good health for the rest of his career.
Thomas, 28, had to have ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction surgery (Tommy John) in 2008 and then underwent microfracture surgery on his left knee in 2010.
Thomas played 40 games for the Tigers in 2008, batting .284 with one home run and nine RBIs. He then played in 102 games with the big league club in 2009, batting .240 with seven home runs and 39 RBIs.
But the knee injury completely derailed his major league career at that point.
Last season Thomas was mostly healthy, playing 113 games with Triple-A Toledo, batting .251 with 12 home runs and 53 RBIs. He also had 20 stolen bases.
Manager Jim Leyland did not forget about Thomas. He even mentioned his name during Prince Fielder's introductory news conference when he was talking about the possible lineup for the upcoming season.
"I like him a lot, still do," Leyland said. "He's fought through some injuries for ...