Tigers impressed with Target Field

Tigers impressed with Target Field

MINNEAPOLIS -- Even before seeing a pitch Monday night, the Tigers had plenty of impressions about Target Field. But slugger Miguel Cabrera summed it up in four words.

"This," Cabrera said, "is big league."

It wasn't going to be hard to get the Tigers to think favorably about this place over the Metrodome, their personal pressure cooker for years. From a spacious visiting clubhouse to a batting cage located just off the dugout, the Tigers were giving positive reviews before heading outside.

"Gorgeous, absolutely stunning," said manager Jim Leyland, who had his own office in this clubhouse after having to share a cramped locker room with coaches in the Metrodome. "They've done an absolutely great job with this entire setup that I've seen. It's absolutely beautiful. They really can be proud of this. They did a great job. I'm happy for them.

"It's a stunning place. It really is. The dugouts are real close to home plate, and Gardy and I will be able to hear each other, probably."

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire could hear Leyland's views on the ballpark earlier in the day, since they toured the place.

"He loves it," Gardenhire said. "He said it's a great place, a great clubhouse over there. He said it was spectacular, makes it one of the better cities to come to. He's right downtown. He can walk to the ballpark.

"I think he's really going to enjoy this place. Hopefully not too awful much. But he sure does like the looks of it."

That said, while there was a beauty to it, Leyland liked the fact that it didn't go overboard. The clubhouse is big, Leyland said, not too big.

"It's done with great taste and not a lot of silly gingerbread," Leyland said.

Once they were done admiring the place, the Tigers had to go about learning how to play it. For that, there's only so much they could do before actually playing a game. Leyland and coaches made a point to hit ground balls to both infielders and outfielders to get an idea how quickly balls carry on the surface.

Leyland also wanted his outfielders to play some hits off the outfield dimensions to see how the ball caroms off of the various surfaces, ranging from the outfield padding to the backdrop behind them to the various limestone facings, including a right-field porch area that hangs over part of right field. The front of it is actually in play.

"If Span hits one off there, you'd better be calling all outfielders to be on alert," Leyland said of the Twins' Denard Span. "But it's great. I'm anxious to play a game here."

That also goes for the backstop, where catcher Gerald Laird was curious how big of a bounce he might encounter on a wild pitch.

"Like Texas, they have the brick there now, and the ball shoots all over the place," Laird said. "You actually need guys to just come in and back up. You want to know which direction the ball's going to be coming off."

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.