Al Kaline watches grandson play as Tigers beat Florida Southern

Updated: February 26, 2008, 7:19 PM ET
Associated Press

LAKELAND, Fla. -- To Detroit Tigers fans, Al Kaline is greatness. To Colin Kaline, he is grandpa.

The Hall of Fame outfielder who's spent more than a half-century with the Tigers found himself in an unusual spot Tuesday: on the opposite side of the team wearing the old English D.

He had a good reason, too. Freshman Colin Kaline plays second base for Florida Southern, which lost to the Tigers 17-4 in an exhibition game.

"This might be the only time I ever root against somebody other than the Tigers," Al Kaline said. "I would love to see him get a hit, but if he doesn't, that's not a problem."

Colin Kaline went 0-for-4, the first time he's ever faced major league pitching in a game situation. He is batting .293 after 11 games for the Moccasins and has been steady in the field. He was flawless against the Tigers with an assist and a putout.

He said he wasn't nervous, even with his grandfather in attendance.

"He's always tried to come to my games, so I knew he was watching," Colin Kaline said. "He's been to most of my college games so far and just comes to have a good time. If I need to ask him a question he will answer it for me, but other than that, he's just my grandpa."

The Moccasins looked a little star-struck, but Colin Kaline said the team was just trying to take it all in.

"It was surreal at first, but it was a thrill for all of us," he said. "We just tried to compete like it was just another game."

Colin Kaline said he knew many of the Tigers through his grandfather. Closer Todd Jones started for the Tigers and when he came in from the bullpen, he gave the younger Kaline a nod -- Colin said that made the day for him.

Tigers manager Jim Leyland said he understood that it was a special day for the Kalines.

"He's a smart kid and he will succeed in whatever he chooses to do," Leyland said.

Jones pitched one scoreless inning.

Miguel Cabrera, Placido Polanco and Brandon Inge each homered for Detroit, along with non-roster invitees Scott Sizemore and Michael Hollimon.

Game notes
The Tigers will host the Mets on Wednesday. Jeremy Bonderman will get the start and will be followed by Jason Grilli, Zach Miner, Yorman Bazardo, Denny Bautista and Tim Byrdak. ... The Mets plan to start Mike Pelfrey and then go with Mike Wise, Pedro Feliciano, Jorge Sosa, Brian Stokes and Willie Collazo. ... Detroit came to contract terms with Bautista, Armando Galarraga, Miner, Macay McBride, Clay Rapada and Ryan Raburn on Tuesday. ... Catcher Ivan Rodriguez has been named the No. 8 hitter in the Tigers' batting order, but he was the leadoff batter against Florida Southern. Leyland wanted to give him an extra at-bat without making him catch an extra inning. Rodriguez singled in his only time up. ... The Tigers went with almost their entire regular season starting lineup. Inge was the designated hitter in place of Gary Sheffield.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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