Cabrera homers for first time this spring
LAKELAND, Fla.—Miguel Cabrera's first home run of the spring was quite a sight. Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland would rather see some more groundballs hit at his new third baseman.
Cabrera led off the third inning with a mighty home run over the left field berm in the Tigers' 5-1 over the Atlanta Braves, but he had only one ball hit toward him at third base.
"I don't ever worry about him hitting," Leyland said of the American League batting champion. "I want to see him get some action to get used to fielding the ball. I can't play him nine innings, and at the end of five innings he hasn't had many groundballs."
Cabrera, moving to third base this spring to accommodate Prince Fielder at first base, made a good play on the ball hit to him Wednesday, saving rookie right-hander Jacob Turner from a big inning.
With two on and none out, the Braves' Tyler Pastornicky hit a chopper that Cabrera had to come in on and then throw across his body for the out at first base.
"He made a good play on a guy that can run," Leyland said. "It's only a tough play if you worry about making a perfect throw," said Cabrera, who played third base in his first four major league seasons. "I just tried to get to it and not worry so much about the throw."
Ryan Raburn's two-run triple highlighted a four-run inning off Atlanta starter Brandon Beachy. Ryan Strieby and Clete Thomas also had hits in the inning, costing Beachy a loss in his first spring start.
"At this point last year, if I go out and do this, I'm at a totally different place in my mind," said Beachy, who has a spot in the Braves' rotation. "But today I felt good, and that's always the No. 1 thing when you go out there for the first time."
The 20-year-old Turner, bidding for the fifth spot in Detroit's rotation, didn't get through the second inning because of four walks.
"You want to get ready for the season, but at the same time you want to show what you can do out there. It wasn't my best day," he said. "I pride myself in not trying to walk people, so to walk however many guys I did today is obviously disappointing."
Luis Marte came in to shut down the Braves and get the win.
Left-hander Andy Oliver, another candidate for the starting rotation, pitched three shutout innings for the Tigers.
J.C. Boscan drove in the Braves' only run with a groundball after Drew Sutton's triple in the seventh.
NOTES: Braves third baseman Chipper Jones sat out a fourth straight game with sore thighs. ... Jason Heyward was 0 for 2, dropping him to .091 (1 for 11) for the spring. "Hopefully he doesn't worry about the numbers and just take it that he's getting closer to where he wants to be," said Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez. ... Tiger center fielder Austin Jackson did not play and spent the day at bunting practice. ... Next time around the rotation, Oliver will start and Turner will follow him, Leyland said.