Tigers' Westlake Exhibiting Offense
First baseman's bat will be carrying tool
DETROIT—It didn't take long for Aaron Westlake to find himself in a Tigers uniform. But there was a catch.
Westlake, a third-round pick in the 2011 draft out of Vanderbilt, wore a Detroit road uniform for a day when he and his low Class A West Michigan teammates commuted to Toledo to take part in an exhibition game between the Tigers and the Triple-A Mud Hens.
"I'm excited (to wear a Tigers uniform), but it probably won't hit me that I'm in this uniform until the game starts and I'm on the field," Westlake said.
Westlake took advantage of the opportunity to impress Detroit manager Jim Leyland, stroking an opposite-field, line-drive double in the fifth inning that scored two runs and helped the Tigers claim an 8-3 win over the Mud Hens.
"We got wind of (this game) at the end of spring training," Westlake said. "It is fun to see a new ballpark, and we get to watch the big league team play up close. And we get to watch the Triple-A team too. They are guys we got to know at spring training. And with (the park) packed, it was fun."
The 23-year-old Westlake didn't stop hitting after the exhibition game. He pounded out at least one hit in 10 of the Whitecaps' first 12 games—and reached base in all 12 contests—to lift his early season numbers to .340/.404/.447 with five doubles, six RBIs and five runs.
Westlake wasn't the only Tiger who made an impression in the exhibition contest. Outfielder Steven Moya walked twice against the Mud Hens and swung a hot bat to start the Whitecaps season. He reached base in 11 of West Michigan's first 12 games and was hitting .415/.478/.561 with a home run, seven RBIs and five runs.
• Righthander Jacob Turner remained in Lakeland to start the season but did not start any of the high Class A Flying Tigers' first 12 games. Shoulder tendinitis kept Turner from competing for a spot in the Detroit rotation and slowed his preparation for this season.
• The Tigers extended their affiliation with Double-A Erie through the 2014 season. The two clubs have been paired since 2001, meaning the SeaWolves and Tigers have been together for all but two of the seasons Erie has played in the Eastern League.