DUNEDIN, Fla. — Prince Fielder took a big lead off first base and Toronto pitcher Henderson Alvarez never gave him a glance. So the hefty slugger took off and slid in with his first spring training swipe since 2008.
“I think any time I steal anything, everybody’s off-guard. That’s the point,” Fielder said following the Blue Jays’ 13-8 win Tuesday over the Detroit Tigers.
In a game that had five home runs among its 28 hits, Fielder’s theft was a highlight.
Fielder followed Miguel Cabrera’s single up the middle in the third inning with a forceout. After Delmon Young popped up, Fielder ran on Alvarez’s first pitch to Alex Avila and beat J.C. Arencibia’s throw and shortstop Yunel Escobar’s tag.
“I just wanted to try it. There was no deep thinking involved,” Fielder said, adding that he should have one steal every spring. “Just to keep in shape.”
Deadpanned Tigers manager Jim Leyland: “I wouldn’t make a big deal out of it.”
“I don’t think you’ll see it very much,” he said. “You can tell Rickey Henderson not to worry about it.”
Fielder has 16 stolen bases in seven major league seasons, putting him 1,390 behind Hall of Famer Henderson’s record.
Fielder’s next gamble on the bases also brought a roar from the crowd, but it wasn’t nearly as successful.
With two outs and Fielder still at second, Jhonny Peralta lined a single to left field. The 275-pound Fielder thundered around third — the coach just watching him race by — and headed home. Left fielder Eric Thames threw Fielder out by two steps to end the inning.
“I thought I had it,” Fielder said, smiling. He received fist bumps from teammates.
Tigers starter Max Scherzer had a rough day, charged with nine runs on 11 hits and three walks in 4 1-3 innings. He was chased during the Blue Jays’ seven-run fifth inning.
“He was out of synch all day long, just not in a good rhythm all day,” Leyland said. “It happens once in a while.”
Thames and two minor leaguers hit home runs for the Blue Jays. Miguel Cabrera connected off Alvarez and Danny Worth hit one off Kyle Drabek, who gave up single runs in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings and two in the ninth.
The Blue Jays took a 4-3 lead in the second with Colby Rasmus and Brett Lawrie hitting ground-rule doubles and made it 5-3 in the third on Thames’ homer.
In his first at-bat of the spring, Ryan Schimpf hit a 2-0 pitch over the centre-field fence for a grand slam. Five pitches later, fellow Class A player Kevin Ahrens homered to left.
Toronto loaded the bases in the fifth on singles by Adam Lind, Thames and Jeff Mathis and when Scherzer walked Rasmus for a run,
NOTES: Detroit RHP Luis Marte, who had just made the team, sustained a left hamstring injury and was placed on the disabled list. He was replaced on the roster by LHP Duane Below. …. Earlier, Tigers 3B Brandon Inge was placed on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 30 with strained left groin. … Blue Jays OF Jose Bautista sat out the game as a precaution with groin tightness. … The Tigers finished spring training against big league teams at 20-8. The Blue Jays ended at 24-7-1, their most spring wins ever.