Fields takes batting practice at Comerica Park

Daniel Fields’ batting practice at Comerica Park Friday afternoon wasn’t an arrival. For him, it was more like a reunion.

Four years ago, he was a coach’s kid looking up to the players. Now he’s a Tigers prospect, selected in the sixth round of June’s First-Year Player Draft. At least sizewise, more than a few Tigers are looking up to him.

“Ramon Santiago, he played with my dad in the Minors,” Fields said, referring to Santiago’s time at West Michigan playing for Bruce Fields. “It’s been a while since I’d seen him, so I gave him a big old hug. Alex Avila, I met him a couple years ago. He actually played against my brother in the summer [leagues], and I met him back then. There were a couple other guys I’d seen when my dad was coaching here [as hitting coach]. It was good to see those guys again.”

It was at Comerica Park where his resume as a hitter began to grow, where he hit a ball over the fence as a 13-year-old taking batting practice with his father. He didn’t clear the fences Friday, but he took just a couple rounds. It was enough for one of those moments where it hits the younger Fields that he’s now a professional baseball player, a realization that first crossed his mind in the hours after his late-night signing just ahead of the deadline.

“My friends were at my house when everything was happening,” Fields said. “After everybody left, I kind of went upstairs and was sitting in my room thinking about it, and that’s when it hit me: I was a professional athlete.”

He had another moment soon afterwards in Lakeland, where his first memories date back about 10 years. He was an eight-year-old following around his dad, then working Spring Training as an instructor, when one of those Florida downpours opened up over the complex.

“Everybody ran to go into the cafeteria or the locker room,” the younger Fields recalled. “For some reason, I turned my back, and when I turned around, everybody was gone. I was just looking around like, ‘Where did everybody go?’ I ran into the minor league clubhouse, and nobody was in there. So I went out and I saw my mom. She was picking one of our family friends up and was taking him back home. I saw my mom, so I started running after the car, and then everybody got into the car and she left.

“I was running down the street and chasing the car. She goes off, and I didn’t know where the car was, so I was walking down the street, and the whole time I’m just crying.”

Suffice it to say, he knows his way around now. He’s certainly on the Tigers’ radar. He’ll be back in Lakeland shortly for the start of the fall instructional league, then return home for offseason workouts.

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