“He’s kind of the first officer in the past with the first police officer in the future, to let him know that he’s the first base man nowadays,” said Director A.J. Hinch. “Opening day will begin, and we are ready to go.
It wasn’t Cabrera’s invitation, but his participation in the meeting made him even more special. Tigers let Turkelson, Odds No. 4 for MLB PipelineI know He made the opening day menu At a Saturday morning meeting in Hinch’s office. Hinch and Cabrera were there, along with general manager Avila, who drafted Torkelson with the first overall pick in the 2020 draft.
The trio wanted to enjoy the meeting and make it unforgettable. So they used Starr to lecture him about the wrong couple, with Cabrera — who played first base in 12 of his 14 seasons in Detroit — there for advice.
“The first part of it was about two plays that Meiji could direct at him,” Hinch said. “One, missed the shift play [Friday against the Yankees]and popups encountered [shortstop Javier] Bayes [on Wednesday against the Phillies]. We had Meiji run through his basics, which I guess he thought was why he was in the room.”
Turkelson said he’s not sure.
They asked me about that play [Friday], then gave Meiji his two cents about that play,” Turkelson said. “And then they asked me if I’d run into more intruders. I said no, and that was when I was like, “Okay.”
“He said, ‘You’re on team opening day,’ and that kind of hit me.”
Hench said: “He just got his head down, started smiling, and it was really emotional for him. I think it’s a huge step for him, and it’s also something he’s got, which is important for our club.”
That’s when Cabrera gave his blessing.
“Meiji hugged me a lot,” Turkelson said. “That was so special, I came from it.”
This gesture may be a transfer of the torch from the greatest Detroit hitter of his generation to the next. The 39-year-old Cabrera has been in Torkelson’s corner since the Tigers first drafted him overall in the 2020 MLB draft, pushing Turkelson and fellow Tigers top players Riley Greene for their chance in the major leagues.
“We want Torkelson in the lineup, so I’ll take DH [slot]Cabrera said last month. “I’m here to help, go out there and play your best baseball game and try to help everyone here.”
These comments arguably set the camp tone for both prospects, but especially for Turkelson given their common position in the field.
It really helped,” Turkelson said. “It really helped me get the confidence and feel like, ‘You know what, I really belong, because I have Miguel Cabrera saying I belong in the squad. “
“It’s really private, and he has no idea how much that means to me. He didn’t have to say these things, so it’s great.”
In many ways, Torkelson represents the likely end of five losing seasons that bounced back on the Cabrera like no one else. When Cabrera was in his early seasons, the chance of winning was high enough that he battled multiple injuries, including a torn thigh in one season and a broken foot in another. The Tigers’ losses in the past few seasons have taken its toll on him.
Compared to Cabrera’s injuries, giving up first base is an easy sacrifice for him to make a promising young player who can bring Detroit back into the competition.
“When Meiji secured him at the beginning of spring, I think it meant a lot to Türk,” Hinch said. “He also showed how much this club believes in our young players. So it was a fun way to tell him.”
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