Tigers caravan covers bases
Everyone needs a little ice cream on their birthday.
Detroit Tigers outfielder Andy Dirks was among nearly two dozen players who made their way to Hudsonville Ice Cream in Holland on Friday.
It was his birthday, and he made the most of it at the stop.
“A tour of this place will make you hungry,” Dirks said. “You get to see how the different ingredients are mixed into the ice cream — the things that you don’t really think about when eating such a tasty treat.
“But I’m just happy to have ice cream on my birthday.”
The stop was part of the Tigers’ annual Winter Caravan, which also stopped at the West Michigan Whitecaps Winter Banquet on Thursday at DeVos Place.
The team followed up their Holland stop with a rally at the Kellogg’s headquarters in Battle Creek.
The whole caravan — which is split into east and west vans — is "a lot of fun" for the players, Dirks said.
“A lot of the time when we just go out on the field and play, you don’t get a whole lot of interaction with the fans — and it kind of motivates you for the season.
“It’s about knowing people have your back and really care about how you’re doing and care about you as a person. It means a lot.”
Hudsonville Ice Cream attracted the Tigers for the second time, they stopped in 2012, because of a partnership with the team, Hudsonville representative Caryn Beatty said.
“The Tigers are just generous enough to come out and get people excited for the season,” Beatty said. “They want to see the companies that are a part of Comerica Park and the whole experience there.”
The Tigers were there to see the production of TigerTraxx, a seasonal flavor for the creamery that has flown off the shelves in past years, Beatty said.
Beatty also said the flavor’s season has been extended to include most of the baseball season, to offer fans a way to bring the stadium home.
Pack of Tigers
A large portion of the Tigers roster made the trip with Dirks: Al Alburquerque, Nick Castellanos, Joba Chamberlain, Bryan Holaday, Austin Jackson, Don Kelly, Steve Lombardozzi, Justin Miller, Hernan Perez, Rick Procello, Luke Putkonen, Bruce Rondon, Max Scherzer and Drew Smyly.
Coaches Mick Billmeyer, Dave Clark, Darnell Coles, Jeff Jones, Wally Joyner and Matt Martin also made the trip.
From the GM
Radio personality Dan Dickerson also came on the bus, as did Tigers President, General Manager and CEO Dave Dombrowski.
Dombrowski spent time addressing the 50 or so fans in attendance about the upcoming season.
He touched on last season’s success, which included drawing 3 million fans to Comerica Park and another trip to the American League Championship Series.
“It’s a miraculous period, starting around 2006, for the franchise,” Dombrowski said. “Being in a position where you have some of the top talent in Major League Baseball.”
He took fans through the roster moves made in the offseason and the awards the team took home last season, talking about 2012 and 2013 Most Valuable Player Miguel Cabrera, 2013 Cy Young Award-winner Scherzer and Justin Verlander, who won both awards in 2011.
“All of a sudden, you start looking like a real good ball club,” Dombrowski said. “There’s a lot of exciting talent.”