MLB and the MLB Players Association are presenting the inaugural Players Weekend on Aug. 25-27, when all players will wear colorful, non-traditional uniforms featuring alternate designs as well as specially designed caps and socks. Players can put a nickname on the back of their jersey, rather than their last name, and wear uniquely colored spikes, batting gloves, wristbands, sleeves and catching masks.
A preview of the promotion will take place on Sunday, Aug. 20, when the Pirates and Cardinals don alternate uniforms for the first MLB Little League Classic in Williamsport, Pa. The Tigers will get their chance the following weekend in Chicago, where they'll face the White Sox in a three-game series at Guaranteed Rate Field.
The Tigers have been bouncing ideas and requests off each other and off clubhouse manager Jim Schmakel for a while.
"I know everybody's having fun talking about what guys are doing on the back of their jerseys," Michael Fulmer said. "Whether or not some of it goes down, I don't know. But it'll be a good time. It's something different. I don't think it'll be a bad thing."
It'll also go for a good cause: Game-worn jerseys will be auctioned at mlb.com/auctions, with all of the net proceeds donated to the MLB-MLBPA Youth Development Foundation, a collaboration between the MLB and MLB Players Association focused on improving the caliber, effectiveness and availability of amateur baseball and softball programs across the U.S. and Canada.
Toward that end, each jersey will include a sleeve patch, where each individual player will mark the name of a person he wishes to thank for helping to advance his career. It could be a family member, or a coach, or a friend.
"Any time we can raise some money for charity for the future of the kids, it's a blessing for us," Fulmer said. "It's going to be their world in the future anyways."
Some nicknames are familiar. Cabrera will go with "Miggy" on his jersey, Justin Upton will go with "J-Up," Anibal Sanchez with "Sanchie," and Justin Verlander with simply "JV."
Others take some explanation. Ian Kinsler's nickname of "Bootsie" goes back a decade to his early years in Texas; he spent a month on the disabled list in 2007 with a stress fracture in his left foot.
"That was the nickname [former Rangers manager] Ron Washington gave me," Kinsler said. "He called me that through my career in Texas, and then when I got here, we got David Price, and then he started calling me that. I don't know how he found out about it. And then [Tigers hitting coach Lloyd] McClendon and Wash are really good friends, so McClendon started calling me that."
Fulmer's nickname of "Fulm Piece" goes back to high school.
"I don't really have a nickname. It's kind of like high school days," Fulmer said. "I didn't know what else to resort to."
Some ideas didn't make the cut. Alex Wilson and Justin Wilson were going to go with "Dale" and "Brennan" in honor of the main characters in the Will Ferrell movie "Step Brothers," but Justin Wilson's trade to the Cubs last week left Alex Wilson on his own. He's still working on an alternative.
Other nicknames that some Tigers are expected to sport on the back of their jerseys on Players Weekend:
• Jose Iglesias: "CANDELITA"
• Victor Martinez: "PAPICHO"
• Mikie Mahtook: "NIGHT HAWK"
• Brad Ausmus: "AUS"
• Andrew Romine: "ROBOMB"