Tigers getting message: Err on the side of aggression

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News

Lakeland, Fla. — Miguel Cabrera ran another stop sign at third base Friday and was again thrown out at home plate.

It was the second time this spring he’s ignored third base coach Dave Clark’s raised hands and pleas to stop. But this time it may have been more of a teaching point for Clark than Cabrera.

“With two outs, that’s what we’ve got to do,” manager Ron Gardenhire said of Cabrera’s aggressive play. “We’ve got to make them throw us out. It was bang-bang at the plate. I think Miggy wants to run. He will tell you he wants to score for his teammates. I had no problem with that one.”

The play occurred in the first inning of the Tigers’ 6-6 exhibition tie with the Phillies. Cabrera was trying to score from first on a two-out double by Victor Martinez. One run had already crossed the plate.

The Phillies deftly executed a relay from right fielder Ryan Flaherty to second baseman Scott Kingery, who made a strong throw to the plate to catcher Andrew Knapp. Clark’s arms were clearly raised to stop Cabrera.

Gardenhire, though, would prefer Clark to err on the side of aggression with two outs.

“We don’t want collisions, but with two outs like that, I expect my third base coach to wave them in,” he said. “You hope they’ll bobble the ball and Miggy will score. With two outs, I waved everybody home when I coached third. If I didn’t, TK would’ve killed me.”

TK was Twins manager Tom Kelly, who was Gardenhire’s mentor from 1991 to 2001 in Minnesota.

“It’s what you are supposed to do with two outs,” Gardenhire said. “I like that. Sometimes you get thrown out by 10 yards. But that’s OK. With two outs, make them throw you out. You just don’t get that many two-out base hits.”

Gardenhire’s plan over these last 11 spring games, as the starters start playing longer into the game, is to start setting a more aggressive tone on the bases. He put on a hit-and-run play with Jose Iglesias in the fifth inning, which prevented an inning-ending double play. He also gave some runners the green light to steal on their own, but the situation didn’t come up.

“To me, these last 11 games are important for us to get to where we want to be,” he said. “We are going to do more with signs, more hit-and-run, bunt-and-run, I want these guys to steal.

“You are going to see us being more aggressive so when we get to the season, we will prove to people that we are going to be an aggressive baseball team.”