Spring training a family affair for Tigers’ Castellanos

Tigers third baseman Nick Castellanos meets up with his father, Jorge, after hitting a homer Monday.

LAKELAND, Fla. — When Detroit Tigers rookie third baseman Nick Castellanos jacked his first homer of the Grapefruit League season deep and onto the berm beyond the left-field wall Monday, his father, fiancee and grandparents were cheering loudly at Joker Marchant Stadium.

When Castellanos came out of the game, they greeted him in the area between the field exit gate and clubhouse with hugs, kisses and handshakes.

"That was your first homer, Nick!" said his grandfather, Leonard Beard, while patting Castellanos on the back. "That was some shot."

Beard’s retired after 25 years in the Detroit Fire Department, and Castellanos’ grandmother, Kathy Beard, graduated from Wayne State.

"We’ve been following the Tigers forever and ever," Leonard said. "We’ve always loved the team, and you can’t beat this — having your grandson on the team now.

Peralta homers twice against Tigers

"We’re staying the entire spring and have an R.V. here in Lakeland."

What were his grandparents proudest of about Nick?

"His accomplishments," Leonard said, "and he’s great with the fans."

Kathy added, "I love his attitude. He loves to play, and he’s just like a big kid."

They took photos of Nick posing with his father, Jorge, who lives near Miami in Davie, and his fiancee, Vanessa Hernandez.

"Hey," Leonard said, "and the other thing is that we’ve gotten to meet Al Kaline. We’ve met Willie Horton and so many of these guys we’ve loved over the years. This has really been something."

Castellanos had a four-RBI game with two doubles last week, and is batting .500 with seven RBIs. His go-to spot is the gap in right-center field, but he pulled the homer.

"For the most part," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said, "he stays to right, and most of his hits will be right of the shortstop. And he does not try to do too much."

However, Ausmus was fine with Castellanos reacting to an inside pitch and parking it.

"The danger with a young hitter is that he hits a home run and thinks he’s a home-run hitter," Ausmus said. "We’ll see how this goes, though."


Oddly enough, it’s been Detroit’s lone homer in eight spring training games.

"I just think it’s an anomaly," Ausmus said.


After lefty reliever Phil Coke got tagged for three runs on six hits Monday against the St. Louis Cardinals, Ausmus noted that he’s not "overly concerned" because Coke is usually a slow starter, and his fastball was clocking a half-dozen miles per hour more (in the 87-90 mph range) than typical at this point of the spring.

On Tuesday morning, Ausmus was asked when he would be concerned.

"When we have to start making (roster) decisions," he said, adding that he would "lend credence" to past performances.

Coke, while a star in the 2012 postseason, was 0-5 with a 5.40 ERA, .299 left-handed opponent batting average, and 1.67 WHIP last year.


Four days have passed since the Tigers placed shortstop Jose Iglesias on the shelf with a painful stress reaction and inflammation in both shins, and the date for his return still hasn’t been set.

It was initially said that he was expected to be out roughly one week.

"We want to make sure we completely get rid of this issue before he returns to baseball," Ausmus said.

Ausmus said "different type of shoes to remove some of that stress" and orthotic supports are being explored.


Ausmus spent more spring trainings with the Houston Astros in Kissimmee (2001-08) than anywhere else during his 18-year career. However, he wasn’t getting gushy about returning there Wednesday to manage against his former club, saying most of the people he knew are gone and adding that he attended a meeting on replay procedures there recently.

Asked to recall a humorous moment at the training site just south of Disney World, the long-time catcher recalled an elusive infield popup on a day when he was playing first base.

"I thought, ‘That’s not the catcher’s ball,’" he said with a smile, "so I let it drop."

AROUND THE HORN: Joba Chamberlain is scheduled to pitch Friday night against the New York Yankees in his first appearance as a visitor at their Tampa ballpark … Former Tiger Daniel Schlereth has hooked on with the Pirates, but didn’t make the trip to Lakeland. He’s set to pitch Wednesday against the Toronto Blue Jays.