Fielder isn’t feeling pressure for more power production

NEW YORK — Prince Fielder took a hanging curveball from Yankees left-hander CC Sabathia in the fourth inning and cranked it into the second row of seats in rightfield at Yankee Stadium on Sunday. It was Fielder’s first home run since hitting two against Boston at Comerica Park on April 7.

The Tigers first baseman hadn’t been hitting for much power lately, but he was still hitting — he finished the New York series batting .309. Settling for singles has impressed Fielder’s manager, Jim Leyland, who said opposing pitchers are staying away from the slugger’s wheelhouse.

Fielder said he hadn’t been feeling any pressure.

“No, because … home runs are thrown and not hit. Home runs are usually mistakes,” he said. “Pitchers are good and, when they don’t make mistakes, you gotta take what they give you.”

Fielder’s blast was a sign that the team started to warm up a bit offensively over the weekend. Austin Jackson’s performance was another. He went 5-for-12 in the three-game set. And he nearly pulled off a spectacular over-the-wall catch to rob ex-Tiger Curtis Granderson of a homer in the fourth.

“It just got away from me at the last minute,” said Jackson, who snow-coned it in his glove for a second before his glove hit a fence pole and jarred it loose. “I try to make every play that I can. Unfortunately, I couldn’t come up with it.”

Brad Eldred made his debut with the Tigers on Friday by hitting a triple and a single. After the initial splash, Eldred finished the series 2-for-13.

The 31-year-old designated hitter had been leading the International League in home runs.

Leyland said he thought Eldred’s performance was “OK.”

“He goes up there swinging, and that’s a good thing. (Yankee pitchers) got in on him a couple times,” he said.

As far as Eldred’s immediate future, Leyland said, “I don’t know how that plays. I’m not so sure we are smart enough to make a decision after three games. It depends on how the club looks, how this ( Delmon Young) situation we are waiting to here (plays out).”

ROOKIE DEBUT: Luke Putkonen made his major league debut Sunday with the bases loaded and two outs in the fifth inning against Granderson.

The 25-year-old right-hander induced a groundout to escape the jam. He lasted 1 2/3 innings, gave up three hits, allowed two runs and two walks.

Leyland said he liked what he saw from the rookie.

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Posted by Tribune News Services

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