Lakeland, Fla. — This had Alex Wilson’s imprints all over it; except it wasn’t him. Not this time.
When the Tigers hit the field for the first official full-squad workout Monday, the nameplates on the backs of Wilson, Jordan Zimmermann and Michael Fulmer each read, “Buddy.”
First zinger of the spring targeted at new manager Ron Gardenhire.
“In our first meeting, Gardy said, ‘I don’t know any of you guys, so I’m just going to call you ‘buddy’ when you are running around until I can get a look at the back of your uniform,’ ” Zimmermann said.
So Zimmermann had equipment manager Jim Schmakel hastily prepare the three “Buddy” jerseys.
“He was laughing,” Zimmermann said. “A few cuss words in there; but it was all in good fun.”
The prank absolutely smacked of Wilson, though, and the consensus around the clubhouse was that it was his idea.
“It wasn’t me, but apparently, I got thrown under the bus by a lot of people,” Wilson said. “It was fun. Gardy had a few choice words for me. He said, ‘I didn’t think it would be the Oklahoma boy (Fulmer) but I thought for sure it’d be the old, salty vet (Zimmermann). And then I thought about it, you are an (Texas A&M) Aggie.’
“I said, ‘I can’t take complete credit for this one, but there will be future ones that I will take credit for.’ ”
Gardenhire, a well-versed clubhouse prankster, took it in good stride, but as he warned Wilson, payback is coming.
“Go ahead, play around boys,” Gardenhire said, smiling. “Wait until they throw a couple of good games in spring training, they may be wearing those Buddy shirts all year. Buddy One, Buddy Two and Buddy Three.”