Back in Detroit, Polanco reflects on close-knit '06

Back in Detroit, Polanco reflects on close-knit '06

DETROIT -- Ask Placido Polanco which moment stands out from the Tigers' 2006 American League championship season, and the answer is pretty predictable.

"Obviously, I'll never forget Magglio hitting that home run," Polanco said Friday, a day before he threw out the first pitch before the Tigers' game against the Indians at Comerica Park. "I was begging for a hit. He hit a home run. I didn't know how to run the bases. I just started jumping. It was fun. I'll always remember that. It was really good times. It's been 10 years now. Time flies."

Ask him what stands out about the team, however, and the answer is vastly different.

"I remember how close, how good of a team we had," Polanco said. "Not just good players, but a good team, where everybody really cared for each other. And I really mean it. That's hard to do, having 25 guys like that. And that year, I think we had it."

He noticed it when he first came over the previous summer, traded in midseason from Philadelphia for Ugueth Urbina.

"When I first came, everybody -- front office, trainers, players -- they made me feel like I was here forever," Polanco said. "And so I felt comfortable right away. Obviously we had good people, good guys there. And the talent was there. It was a matter of fighting to play better baseball. We started doing it in Spring Training the next year. We were all on the same page."

As part of the season-long celebration of that team, Polanco returned to Comerica Park this weekend.

It marked the second straight year he returned, having been back for Fiesta Tigres last season. Polanco hadn't been around much before then following retirement, though he had seen old teammates in Miami, where he lives. He feels the pull of the game again, and admits his love of baseball has him thinking about coaching.

"I think the time's getting closer," he said. "My daughter is 16 now, my son is 12. I think I can get back into the game as long as I get to go home more often now. I'm pretty sure there's something out there that's an option for now. Eventually, they don't want to see you anymore."

He already has gotten a taste of coaching with his kids, including a Jim Leyland moment. Polanco's son plays Little League, and he was talked into coaching when a teammate's mother found out who he was.

"I got kicked out of one game," Polanco said.

He wasn't arguing balls and strikes with the umpire. He was arguing pitches.

"Well, the kids that age, they aren't supposed to throw the curveball. Just throw the fastball," Polanco explained. "I see all the kids striking out, and I go, 'Is that a curve?' [The umpire is] like, 'No, that's a changeup.' I'm like, 'Bro, that's a [heck] of a changeup. We should draft this kid right now.'

"He's like, 'I don't want to hear another word from you.' I say, 'I don't want to hear another word from you, either! I'm out of here!'"

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.