Cabrera and Fielder homer for Tigers in loss to Jays
NOAH TRISTER, AP Baseball Writer
5:39 PM, Feb 23, 2013
LAKELAND, Fla. (AP) - Prince Fielder's drive sailed well past the wall in right field, toward the roof of the batting cages at Joker Marchant Stadium.
Not to be outdone, Miguel Cabrera hit a home run two innings later to the back of the grassy berm in left-center.
"I have no idea how far either of them went, but they were both bombs," Detroit manager Jim Leyland said.
Detroit's two sluggers put on an impressive power show, and they were just the opening act in the Tigers' 10-3 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays on Saturday. Bruce Rondon, the hard-throwing 22-year-old who could be Detroit's new closer, struck out J.P. Arencibia and Josh Thole to escape a fifth-inning jam.
The revamped Blue Jays, meanwhile, won their exhibition opener as John Gibbons began his second stint as Toronto's manager. The Blue Jays were without new shortstop Jose Reyes, but Brett Lawrie hit a two-run single in the third.
Brandon Morrow allowed Fielder's two-run shot in the first.
"Obviously down and in for a strike to Prince Fielder is not a good pitch," Morrow said. "I wouldn't be throwing that during the season, but we're working on stuff."
Lance Zawadzki hit a grand slam in the sixth to break a 3-all tie. There was a scary moment in the seventh when Toronto outfielders Mike McCoy and Ryan Langerhans collided on a flyball to right-center. McCoy left with a left quad contusion.
In their exhibition home opener, the Tigers started what could end up being their opening day lineup. Fielder gave Detroit a 2-0 lead, and Cabrera's solo homer in the third made it 3-all.
Tigers fans then had a chance to check out Rondon, the 6-foot-3, 275-pound Venezuelan who may end up closing in Detroit after Jose Valverde was let go.
He started off with a couple quick strikes to Maicer Izturis, but his next pitch was inside and appeared to catch plate umpire Jeff Gosney in the foot.
"I'm sure he was a little nervous his first time out, a little wild, but he settled down," catcher Alex Avila said. "It was fun to catch him. By far he has one of the best arms I've ever seen."
Izturis hit a weak flare that Cabrera caught in foul ground near third base. After a walk to Lawrie, Adam Lind doubled to right-center.
But the Blue Jays stranded both runners, giving Rondon a scoreless frame.
"It wasn't anything I didn't expect to see — a little antsy his first time out," Leyland said.
Anibal Sanchez threw two scoreless innings for Detroit. He caught a break in the second when center fielder Austin Jackson threw out Toronto's Moses Sierra at third for the third out, just as it looked like a run was about to score.
Detroit's baserunning wasn't much better. Sierra threw Jhonny Peralta out from right field for the first out of the bottom of the second when Peralta was trying to go from first to third on a single.
Morrow allowed two runs and three hits in his only inning.
"We were scattering it a little bit today," Gibbons said of his team's pitching. "We weren't real sharp."
NOTES: RHP David Bush pitched two hitless innings for Toronto to get the win. Detroit's Ryan Robowski took the loss. ... Although neither is expected to pitch too long, Sunday brings an appealing matchup in Lakeland when Detroit RHP Justin Verlander faces Philadelphia RHP Roy Halladay. ... Sunday is Toronto's only scheduled split squad date. The Blue Jays host Baltimore in Dunedin and face the New York Yankees in Tampa. LHP Mark Buehrle, acquired from Miami in the same trade as Reyes, starts against the Orioles.