NEW YORK -- Brad Eldred is a slugging first baseman and designated hitter who bounced around the Minors the past few years. He signed with the Tigers, an organization that already has two slugging first basemen, thinking maybe he could get a look.
"I thought, 'Well, this type of organization, the guys that hit balls over the fence -- if I pull my end of the bargain, maybe something will happen,'" Eldred said. "I was able to do well starting out, and I'm here now. It's been working well so far."
In his first at-bat wearing a Tigers uniform, Eldred hit a first-pitch RBI triple, a sinking line drive that bounced past Raul Ibanez in left field to plate Detroit's first run off Yankees starter Ivan Nova. Eldred added a fifth-inning infield single into a hole at shortstop before reaching on an error an inning later.
Eldred is expected to start Saturday and Sunday. Even if the Tigers are trying to catch lightning in a bottle, they're going to give it every chance to show.
Eldred's numbers at Triple-A Toledo were tough to believe: He hit .388 with the Hens, and his 13 homers and 35 RBIs through 20 games led all of Minor League Baseball. So did his 1,013 slugging percentage -- not OPS, slugging.
When did it hit Eldred that he had something special going?
"Probably [not] until almost the last game I played there," he said. "I had a three-homer game the one game. I knew I had a lot of home runs at that point. I was like, 'Wow, I already have eight or nine home runs. This is going pretty good.' Then I hit three, and I'm like, 'Whoa, this is a little ridiculous.' Then the last game I hit one as well. It felt like whenever I got a decent pitch that I wasn't missing, it ended up being a home run.
Teammates, he said, "were kind of messing with me the whole time, saying, 'You know, it's OK to hit a single.'"