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Fielder arrives early at Tigers’ camp

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Associated Press
February 21, 2012
— Miguel Cabrera began smacking line drives all over a practice diamond at the Detroit Tigers’ spring training complex. Then Prince Fielder stepped up and cracked a soaring shot toward right field.

Forget those pitchers and catchers. To these Motown mashers, this was the sound of a powerful new partnership.


Fielder arrived at camp Monday, entering a clubhouse that is becoming increasingly crowded even though the first full squad workout isn’t until Friday. Fielder and Cabrera both came to camp early, along with a handful of other position players.


“Does it mean you’re going to win more games? No,” manager Jim Leyland said. “But it makes you happy that guys want to be down here with the guys. It tells you basically that winter’s over, and they want to get down here and get to work.”


Monday was the first workout for pitchers and catchers, but Fielder and Cabrera put on the best show with their brief batting practice display. They made their way onto a back field after the pitchers were done using it for their drills.


Fielder and Cabrera started by throwing a bit with each other, then the two sluggers went to the plate with shortstop Jhonny Peralta and took some swings.


“Hitting with a group with Miggy and Prince Fielder—it was really fun,” Peralta said. “It’s good to see that a couple of guys reported early, and they’re ready to go.”


Fielder agreed to a $214 million, nine-year contract with the AL Central champions in the offseason. The Tigers will put him and Cabrera in the middle of their lineup, and with ace Justin Verlander also in the fold, Detroit has an imposing trio of MVP-caliber players in their primes.


Cabrera is expected to move to third base to make room for Fielder at first, but the two aren’t in the lineup for their defense. They combined to hit 68 home runs last year.


“I’m very excited, but we’ve still got work to do,” Fielder said shortly after arriving in the clubhouse. “I can’t say it’s going to be guaranteed to have a perfect year just because we have a good team. ... You have to do what people expect of you, first.”


Cabrera tried to do his part to make Fielder feel welcome.


“I was excited to see him today, man,” Cabrera said. “It’s all family here. We’ve got to do a lot of things to get him comfortable. ... He’s going to feel like he’s played for a lot of years here.”


Fielder was introduced at a news conference in Detroit after agreeing to his contract. But there, he was accompanied by team management. Now he’s with a big group of new teammates.


“I’m very respectful of all my players, but when a guy like that shows up, guys obviously take notice,” Leyland said. “When star players show up, people take a look.”


Pujols reports to Angels

Decked out in Angels’ gear from head to toe, Albert Pujols looked like the same slugger whose swing in St. Louis became as symbolic as the Gateway Arch.


With a halo-topped “A” logo on his cap, Pujols, his massive chest and arms filling out every corner of his red shirt, sat behind a microphone and excitedly announced the start of a new stage of his career.


“Here I am,” he said.


And here he goes.


Arriving just as the morning sun crept above the horizon, and more than a week earlier than required, Pujols reported to training camp Monday in Tempe, Ariz., with the Los Angeles Angels, who will pay the three-time NL MVP $240 million over the next 10 years to be the face of their franchise—and to hopefully bring them several World Series titles.


“I’m just really excited to be here, it feels good to be outside,” Pujols said during a news conference held at a nearby luxury hotel. “I’ve been training for three months, hitting in a cage in St. Louis, and it feels good to be here for some spring baseball.”


Although only the Angels’ pitchers and catchers had to be at camp this early, Pujols wanted to be there from Day One as well. That’s how the 32-year-old has done it since breaking into the big leagues in 2001 and he wasn’t about to change his routine.


He also felt it was important to begin bonding with his new teammates, some of whom were caught staring at him from across the clubhouse.



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