LAKELAND, Fla. — While the Tigers roughed up Blue Jays pitching for an 8-2 win Thursday at Joker Marchant Stadium, another potential key part of their offense was on the back fields working out with other members of the club who weren’t part of the game roster.
It was the first formal workout for Nomar Mazara, who was officially cleared to join Tigers camp Thursday morning after undergoing intake testing. His arrival had been delayed by visa and travel issues.
Mazara faced live pitching, including Julio Teheran and Franklin Perez. He also had regular batting practice and outfield work. Manager A.J. Hinch hopes to get him into a game as soon as Sunday in another matchup with the Blue Jays.
“Maybe DH, maybe a couple innings in the outfield, but he should be able to handle that,” Hinch said. “He’s in great shape.”
The Tigers signed Mazara to a one-year, $1,750,000 contract on Feb. 12, just before the start of camp, to provide a left-handed bat in the lineup. The 25-year-old began his career with three consecutive 20-homer seasons and a 19-homer campaign in 2019, before hitting only one long ball in 42 games for the White Sox last year while batting .228 with a .589 OPS. New Tigers hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh worked with Mazara last year in Chicago, so he could help the outfielder ramp up for the start of the season.
Cabrera gets dirty in first inning at first base
Miguel Cabrera hadn’t played at first base in a game since May 31, 2019, so there was some intrigue when he took his old spot in the field for Thursday’s game. It didn’t take him long to settle in.
Cabrera was his usual chatty self when Vladimir Guerrero Jr. reached base, giving him a half-hug and then toying with him as if he could pick him off. Moments later, Cabrera made a diving attempt at Alejandro Kirk’s ground ball down the line, coming up short on what ended up being an RBI single. He looked better in the next inning, fielding a ground ball and making an easy throw to pitcher Spencer Turnbull for the out.
Cabrera played three innings in the field. He also churned out his first hit of the spring, a ground-ball RBI double down the third-base line, and received a pat from Guerrero as he made way for a pinch-runner.
“Miggy’s a good first baseman,” Hinch said. “I think people have gotten more comfortable with him not having the glove on his hand, but he was pretty active. I mean, the ball will find you. We made it an active day for him.”
Cabrera is expected to get the next day or two off before returning to the lineup this weekend. He could play first base again before Monday’s off-day or shortly thereafter.
Zack Short hit in head by pitch
While the Tigers took advantage of Blue Jays pitching for seven walks, they also had a scary moment when Zack Short took a 93 mph fastball off his helmet from Elvis Luciano.
Short knelt on one knee as Tigers head athletic trainer Doug Teter attended to him. He got up under his own power and walked back to the dugout, and eventually to the clubhouse for further evaluation.
“We escaped anything major with him, other than him being annoyed that he got hit in the head,” Hinch said. “He was seen by our doctors. He’s not showing any symptoms, which is great.”
Hinch thinking of Boone
The Tigers return to Tampa, Fla., on Friday to face the Yankees for the second time this week, but Hinch will miss seeing manager Aaron Boone, who underwent surgery to have a pacemaker on Wednesday.
“I want everybody to continue to think and pray for Aaron Boone,” Hinch said Thursday. “I ended up making contact with him last night. He said everything went well. But as we go back to the Yankees, obviously, it’s a scary situation whenever anybody talks about the heart. Specifically, it’s a history in my family.”
Hinch’s father, Dennis, passed away from a heart attack in 1993 at just 39 years old.
“Hopefully Boonie’s doing well, recovering fast and will get back in the dugout,” Hinch said.