Viera, Fla. — Magglio Ordonez’s new muscle, which came courtesy of a hard winter in the gym, was evident Tuesday when he slammed a three-run home run beyond the right-center field fence at Space Coast Stadium.
But that hardly surprised Tigers manager Jim Leyland.
“With Magglio, all you have to do is listen and you can tell by the sound of the bat,” Leyland said, speaking of the difference in his 36-year-old right fielder compared with 2009, which was mostly a nightmare for a one-time American League batting champion.
Ordonez’s three-run home run, his second of the Grapefruit League season, was part of a 14-hit Tigers assault as the Tigers bashed the Nationals, 9-4.
Ordonez is batting .500 in five Grapefruit League games, which is merely keeping him in the chase for the Tigers’ team lead in hitting.
Don Kelly, who must be eating something atomic for breakfast, maintained his fiery hitting Tuesday when he had a single and two doubles, one of which crashed against the top of the center-field fence.
Kelly’s batting .563, a nose ahead of another torrid Tigers batter, rookie Austin Jackson, who appears bent on making the fan base forget about his predecessor, Curtis Granderson.
Jackson created his own dramatics Tuesday. He turned a hard-hit single to left into a double, thanks to hustle and speed. And he showed power potential later when he launched a home run over the center-field fence.
“He could be a huge weapon for us,” Leyland said of Jackson, who is looking as sharp in center field as he has been at leadoff. “We’re just going to keep throwing him out there, let him play, and figure out some things.
“But I’m very pleased with what I’ve seen so far from Austin Jackson.”
There was a shared sadness Tuesday when it was learned that the Twins might lose closer Joe Nathan because of a torn ligament in his throwing elbow.
Nathan has been a terror against Tigers hitters for the past five years. But there was nothing but compassion Tuesday for a fabulous bullpen closer, no matter the opportunity Nathan’s loss might mean for division rivals.
“We’re all friends, we’re all peers, we’re all competitors,” Leyland said. “We’re all baseball people.
“I think the world of Joe Nathan. That’s a crying shame.”
Scott Sizemore was scratched from Tuesday’s lineup because of soreness in the right ankle he fractured last October. The discomfort was not viewed as alarming, or anything the Tigers medical staff didn’t anticipate as a rookie second baseman continues his recovery.
… Leyland said he expects Brandon Inge to get his first start of the Grapefruit League season inside of 10 days. Inge is healing following last autumn’s surgery to treat tendinitis in both knees.