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Tigers rally past Yankees, 9-8

Saturday, March 5, 2005

By LARRY LAGE

ASSOCIATED PRESS

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Dmitri Young violently collided with catcher John Flaherty on a play at the plate, a startling sight during a spring training game.

Young left the game to get five stitches on his ear. After returning to the dugout, he said the blood was worth it because the aggressive play was meant to convey how the Detroit Tigers intend to play this season.

"We're the Tigers -- not the kittens," Young said during Saturday's 9-8 win over New York.

The 6-foot-2, 245-pound Young lumbered from first base and barreled over Flaherty, who held onto the ball. Flaherty's hockey-style mask flew off his head, which he said was unusual.

"I didn't think it was dirty," said Flaherty, who was not hurt. "The only thing you can debate is that it was a spring training game."

A white bandage covered Young's stitches atop his left ear.

"Everybody is saying it looks like I've been in a ring with Mike Tyson," he joked.

Jason Giambi, playing his first road game of spring training, had a single in four at-bats. He was warmly cheered each time he was introduced.

"I didn't know what to expect," Giambi said. "You never know, and that way you never set yourself up to be let down."

Derek Jeter hit a pair of two-run singles to help the Yankees take a 7-1 lead after three innings against Jason Johnson and Wilfredo Ledezma -- both Detroit starters. The Tigers rallied for the victory, improving to 3-0, against Yankees minor leaguers.

Detroit's Brandon Inge hit a two-run homer in a four-run sixth, and had a two-run double in the fourth.

In his first spring outing, Mike Mussina started and allowed a run on three hits over two innings and struck out one.

"I threw all my pitches in different spots in the count and got some work in from the stretch in a game situation," Mussina said. "Besides getting behind in the count a few times, I'm pleased. For it being the first appearance of the spring, it was very productive."

Johnson, projected to start on opening day, gave up two runs on four hits and a walk and had two strikeouts over the first two innings. Ledezma, likely Detroit's fifth starter, allowed five runs on four hits and two walks while striking out three.

"When you get behind hitters that's what happens," Tigers manager Alan Trammell said. "I don't want to say, 'It's OK,' but I'm more understanding because it's early.

"I'm not jumping off any bridges because of Jason and Wil."

Though it was a home game for the Tigers, it sounded like they were on the road.

Many in the crowd of 8,522 -- just short of the Joker Marchant Stadium record of 8,674 -- chanted: "Let's Go Yankees!" during New York's five-run third.

Before the game, Trammell expected the pro-Yankees atmosphere and said it bothered him. Trammell then longed for the days when he was playing shortstop for the Tigers and their 1984 World Series title made them popular home and away.

"We used to be a big draw," Trammell said. "It was neat. We were often the home club, wherever we played."

NOTES: Yankees LHP Randy Johnson, scratched from his first start because of a sore calf, threw 10 pitches off the mound in Tampa on Saturday and is expected to start Tuesday, and LHP Mike Stanton (biceps tendinitis) is expected to have his first spring outing Monday. ... Tigers 2B Omar Infante (sore shoulder) was expected to play Saturday for the first time this spring, but Trammell said he will be out a few more days. ... Yankees RHP Mariano Rivera is expected to make his first appearance early this week. ... New York OF Gary Sheffield (shoulder) does not have a timetable for his return, manager Joe Torre said. ... The Tigers said they sold more than 30,000 tickets during the first two hours of single-game ticket sales on Saturday, about 5,000 more than they sold on the first day single-game tickets went on sale a year ago. Opening day sold out.

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I'm not going to be excited over a spring training game. If you look at the article, you may notice the fact that The Yanks were up 7-1 in the beginning of the game i.e. when the starters were playing, and shelled both Jason Johnson and Wil Ledezma.

A wins a win I guess.

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