Opening day may still be a few months off, but everybody at Fifth Third Field on Wednesday was ready for spring.
The Detroit Tigers and Toledo Mud Hens held their annual Fandemonium at the downtown ballpark. Fans lined up to meet Tigers manager, and Perrysburg native, Jim Leyland as well as players Jacob Turner, Don Kelly and Duane Below.
Before Fandemonium, the team met with the media and the question on everyone's mind was: How will the club replace Victor Martinez? The all-star tore his ACL earlier in the week.
"Dave [Dombrowski]...he's real smart and we've talked about some names already but he's not going to panic and he's going to do his homework," Leyland said. "You don't just go out when this happens...you don't just go out the next day and sign some guy."
Martinez played a big role in the Tigers postseason run in 2011, Leyland knows the probability of replacing him is slim.
"Everybody has to remember, you're not going to sign [a] Victor Martinez and you're not going to find him internally...most likely," Leyland said.
For pitcher Below the return to Toledo is always a good one. Below is a graduate of nearby Britton-Deerfield high school and playing for the Tigers organization has been a dream come true.
"Growing up being a Tigers fan and with all my friends and family so close...I think that one of the main things that make it as easy for me to transition to Toledo to Detroit [is] because I have family here in Toledo, I have family in Michigan...I'm close and blessed to be in this position," Below said.
The Tigers and Mud Hens will renew an old tradition this year, by playing an exhibition game against each other at Fifth Third Field before the start of the season.
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