LAKELAND, Fla. (AP) — Tigers star Miguel Cabrera played the field for the first time this spring, doing fine at first base as Detroit beat the Miami Marlins 8-4 Wednesday.
Cabrera had been limited to designated hitter duty while recovering from ankle surgery.
Cabrera made a diving stop on a hard grounder by former teammate Don Kelly and threw from the ground for the out at first. Cabrera also fielded a bases-loaded grounder and threw home for a forceout.
“I’m just glad to back on the field playing first base,” Cabrera said. “I can play defense and I want to be back at first. I’m seeing the ball, getting my timing down. It’s a good sign.”
Cabrera scared manager Brad Ausmus when he made that dive. Cabrera said it was just instinct and was laughing when he raised himself up.
Ausmus didn’t think it was so funny at first.
“I liked it a lot, especially when he got up,” Ausmus said. “I was a little more concerned when he went down. Of course I was concerned. He is an important part of this team.”
The former Triple Crown winner went 0 for 2. Cabrera played alongside Victor Martinez, who went 1 for 3.
Cabrera hit third and was followed by Martinez, and Jose Iglesias played his third straight game at shortstop. Martinez is coming off knee surgery and Iglesias has been recovering from stress fractures in both shins.
Alfredo Simon allowed four runs in 4 2-3 innings, leaving him with a 7.02 ERA in five spring starts for Detroit.
David Phelps, competing for a spot in the Marlins’ rotation, pitched five shutout innings, giving up two hits. Acquired from the Yankees to Miami during the offseason, he’s been sharp in five starts.
Bryan Holaday hit a grand slam for Detroit.
Donovan Solano had three hits, including a home run, for Miami.
Marlins: Phelps isn’t taking a starting job for granted once camp breaks in less than two weeks.
“I’m satisfied that I am doing all I can,” said Phelps, who started 17 games for the Yankees last season. “I am being more aggressive. It’s a new thing here. I am going from a team with a lot of guys fighting for a starting spot to a more laid-back atmosphere. My job is to pitch and let (management) make the decisions.”
Marlins manager Mike Redmond said he still hasn’t settled on his fifth starter, but Phelps is in the mix.
“I think he is pitching great,” Redmond said. “He is relentless on the corners. We brought in guys who can start and relieve and he can do both.”
Tigers: Ausmus said he wasn’t putting too much stock in Simon’s struggles this spring.
“He just keeps getting up in the zone,” Ausmus said. “I’m not worried about it. Spring training is all about preparation than performance.”
Marlins: Henderson Alvarez will start on Thursday against the St. Louis Cardinals. He is 0-1 with a 5.40 earned run average this spring.
Tigers: Opening day starter David Price will go on Thursday in Lakeland against the Baltimore Orioles.
Tigers relievers Joe Nathan, Joba Chamberlain and Bruce Rondon each pitched a shutout inning. Nathan will make his first back-to-back outing on Thursday against the Orioles and said he hasn’t felt better all spring.
“I felt so good today,” Nathan said. “It felt good coming out of my hand and I knew I could beat guys with my fastball. The difference was night and day compared to the last time out.”
Nathan said he had been spending a lot of time watching film of himself and used it to make adjustments in his delivery.
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