Originally posted on Fox Sports Detroit  |  Last updated 2/22/12
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By DANA WAKIJI FOXSportsDetroit.com LAKELAND, Fla. -- Kenny Rogers was not expecting to do any of his famous dives off the mound during pitchers' fielding practice on Wednesday. But he was willing to talk to the young Tigers pitchers, especially the left-handers. "I think that's probably one of the reasons that (special assistant to the general manager Dick) Egan kept calling a lot," Rogers said after his arrival in Tigertown. "I have no problem. It's Detroit. Anything I can help at all, obviously, I'm going to try." Rogers, who lasted 20 seasons in the big leagues, has had a longstanding invitation to come to camp. Although most people associate him with the Texas Rangers, he has a soft spot for the Tigers and Lakeland. "I was driving in and I had a friend with me, and I pointed to that hangar over there," Rogers said. "That was my first bullpen session when the (Rangers) scout was deciding whether he was going to sign me or not. "This place brings back a lot of great memories for me." Despite their disparate styles, Justin Verlander and Rogers became very good friends when Rogers was with the Tigers from 2006, Verlander's rookie season, through 2008. Verlander had a big hug for Rogers, saying, "They finally got you to come out here!" Rogers said he and Verlander still speak frequently, but Rogers doesn't have as much advice for Verlader anymore. "Heck, MVP, Cy Young one year," Rogers said. "How much can you tell him now?" Although Verlander might not need as much advice, there are quite a few left-handers in camp, including a few in the mix to be the Tigers' fifth starter. Those players include Duane Below, Casey Crosby, Andy Oliver, Drew Smyly and Adam Wilk. "I'll definitely ask a couple questions to him (Rogers) when we get an opportunity," Wilk said. "They've told us he's going to be around for a couple days, and he's going to work with the left-handers on moves and just kind of how to pitch without overpowering stuff, which is pretty similar to what I have to do. "It'll be a good learning experience for me and definitely an opportunity for me to ask as much as I can." Wilk, 24, appeared in five games with the Tigers last season, recording a 5.40 ERA in 13 13 innings. "This guy's not just a soft tosser," manager Jim Leyland said of Wilk. "He throws a little harder than people think. "He's got pretty good equipment. He's a student of pitching. He's sharp. He knows what his equipment is and what he has to do to get hitters out. "I think it was a good experience for him last year to get his feet wet a little bit." Wilk said he had watched Rogers and other left-handers like Jamie Moyer and Tom Glavine, trying to get an idea of how they approached hitters. "I'm going to have to face a hitter four times in a game," Wilk said. "I don't have the overpowering stuff. I've got to get him out probably a different way each time I face him. "so how he (Rogers) does that is going to be a good question to ask. And how he's able to do that facing hitters four times in a game, but also four or five games in a year." Rogers said he's not planning to become a coach at any level anytime in the near future, but he's happy to be in camp and hopeful that he can help some of the guys. "It's not because I know how to tell everybody everything to do the correct way or anything; I don't," Rogers said. "But something might click with one or two guys. That would be huge, especially with the young guys."
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