Leyland: Ex-Tiger Polanco ‘a peach’

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Lynn Henning
The Detroit News

Clearwater, Fla. — A day after they greeted Curtis Granderson, the Tigers said hello Thursday to another of their former trademark players: Placido Polanco.

He’s with his new team, the Phillies, and at a new position, third base. But not much else has changed. He was 1-for-3 with a single and a line-out in the Phillies’ 4-0 victory over the Tigers at Bright House Field.

Polanco and his former employers all but had a love-in as they paid compliments.

Said Polanco: “From Skip (manager Jim Leyland) hitting me ground balls, to the guys in the clubhouse like Carlos (Guillen) and Magglio (Ordonez) — when I said we treated each other like family, I meant it. I hate playing against these guys.”

Said Leyland: “I don’t know if a manager is supposed to be a friend with a player, but he’s a friend. Some guys are athletes, some are baseball players. And he’s a hell of a baseball player. He’s a peach.”

Polanco, 34, signed a three-year, $18 million deal with the Phillies in December after he became a free agent and the Tigers declined salary arbitration.

The game

Justin Verlander became the first Tigers pitcher to throw four innings, which was remarkable on a day when heavy rains were forecasted and appeared ready to deluge the field. But the game was over in 2 hours and 1 minute, which narrowly beat the wet stuff.

Verlander allowed six hits and two runs, striking out two and walking none. Brad Thomas and Joel Zumaya (who allowed a homer to Raul Ibanez ) also were nicked, while Cody Satterwhite and Fu-Te Ni had one-inning shutout stints.

The Tigers got only three hits, all singles, from Austin Jackson , Jeff Larish and Scott Sizemore .

Around the horn

A 1984 World Series ring belonging to reserve infielder Doug Baker had received four bids on eBay as of 11 p.m. Thursday. The leading bid was $5,300; the auction ends at 5 tonight.

… Johnny Damon was back in the lineup after missing a day because of a tender toe.

… Brandon Inge will make his first start of the Grapefruit League season Saturday.

Last Updated: March 12. 2010 1:00AM