DETROIT (AP)—The Detroit Tigers will retire Sparky Anderson’s No. 11 this year, one of several gestures the team is planning to honor the late manager.
The Tigers also will wear a commemorative patch to honor the Hall of Fame manager who led them to the World Series title in 1984, and raise a flag with his name on it at their home opener.
“When you think of great managers and people in the game that really epitomize what it is to be a baseball manager … you think of Sparky Anderson,” general manager Dave Dombrowski said Saturday.
Anderson, who also won the World Series twice as Cincinnati’s manager, died Nov. 4. Dombrowski expressed regret that Anderson passed away before his number was retired.
“I know in a way, it’s a shame,” Dombrowski said. “It’s the same thing, I see somebody go into the Hall of Fame, and you say, ‘Gee, I wish they’d gone in when they were alive.”’
The date for the number retirement has yet to be determined.
In 2009, the Tigers celebrated the 25th anniversary of their last World Series title. Anderson easily drew the loudest cheers at Comerica Park when he was introduced with players from the 1984 squad.
“I remember it all,” said Jim Leyland, Detroit’s current manager. “I remember seeing Sparky out in the hallway and having a conversation with him. He didn’t want to come in the clubhouse, but I went out, and we had a great conversation.”
Anderson will be the sixth Tiger to have his number retired by the team.
“The Tigers don’t really have a lot of retired numbers, so that’s a real honor, and well deserved,” Leyland said. “I’m glad they didn’t retire mine today.”
Leyland and Dombrowski were at snowy Comerica Park on Saturday for TigerFest, the team’s annual winter fan event. Victor Martinez(notes), the team’s biggest offseason acquisition, was on hand as well.
The Tigers also added starting pitcher Brad Penny(notes) and reliever Joaquin Benoit(notes), moves they hope will help them return to the postseason for the first time since winning the American League pennant in 2006, Leyland’s first year as the team’s manager.
Detroit went 81-81 last season, finishing 13 games behind first-place Minnesota.
Martinez, who played previously for Cleveland and Boston, is no stranger to chilly weather, but he was impressed with Saturday’s turnout.
“It’s like 10 degrees outside,” he said. “You see … people outside, just like they’re waiting to see a game. That tells you something. That tells you a lot.”
Notes: Dombrowski said trade talks are progressing for RHP Armando Galarraga(notes), whom Detroit designated for assignment Tuesday. Detroit is in the middle of a 10-day window to make a move with Galarraga, who became expendable when Penny signed. “Not quite at a position to make any announcements,” Dombrowski said. “I would think, at least by the middle of next week, we’d be in a position where we would make a deal.” … Leyland plans to bat Martinez fifth and OF Magglio Ordonez(notes) third. “You can etch that in stone,” he said. … Dombrowski said 2B Carlos Guillen(notes) is making progress as he recovers from a left knee injury from August. “The doctor projects that Carlos should be able to play in games around the middle of March,” Dombrowski said.