CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Few hitters in the game today can make a tape-measure home run look as effortless as Miguel Cabrera. Just as few can make it sound that way.
While the 6,061 in attendance at Bright House Field saw Cabrera test the depths of the ballpark with his three-run homer to left field, Cabrera claims he just saw a way to avoid a double play with runners in scoring position when he blistered a Jonathan Papelbon fastball.
"With a runner in scoring position with one out, I try to hit the ball in the gap," Cabrera said. "I try not to kill the inning with a ground-ball double play right there. It was like my goal to try to elevate the ball, try to hit the gap."
He certainly did that. The ball nearly landed in the players' parking lot behind the stadium. A bartender at one of the tiki bars along the left-field concourse said the ball hit the back fence behind the bar, about 100 feet beyond the left-field fence. Most teams don't even attempt to do measurements on Spring Training home runs, but the best guess was a 450-foot drive.
Players have homered into the players' parking lot in the past, especially during batting practice. Most of those, however, take place during batting practice -- not during a game.
It was the second home run of the spring for Cabrera, who said he's trying to get his timing down quickly before he leaves to join Venezuela for the World Baseball Classic.
The tape-measure drive upstaged Nick Castellanos' first home run in a Tigers uniform, an opposite-field drive to right-center field that looked a lot like a classic Cabrera homer. Castellanos understood.
"I hit a home run. That guy hit a moon shot," Castellanos said.