Folks sometimes wonder if spring training is an excuse for baseball people to skip the snow and head for Florida. And, while the winks are appreciated, spring camp's worth was on display Sunday at the Tigertown complex's four practice fields.

Amid temperatures that had moved blessedly from the morning 40s into the 50s, Tom Brookens worked on one of the diamonds, schooling Tigers veterans and prospects on how to run from third base.

He lectured the troops about secondary leads. He displayed proper timing of steps when running on contact. He showed them how to glide in sidestep fashion during a rundown.

"If you get your back to them," he said of defensive players working their three-man weave during a rundown chase, "you're dead."

Wealth of skills necessary

Brookens' seminar was an extension of a theme manager Jim Leyland has talked about during spring camp's early days. It takes a wealth of skills to win baseball games. And those skills are as essential for bench players as for regulars.

Leyland will decide final roster spots with specific needs in mind. He will want speed, defense, and versatility. And that won't make for easy or enjoyable conversations when he breaks the news to a couple of contenders who won't crack that final 25-man roster.

The Tigers will take 13 position players north. They have spots cleared for 11 players all but certain to make the team: Austin Jackson, Torii Hunter, Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder, Victor Martinez, Alex Avila, Jhonny Peralta, Omar Infante, Andy Dirks, Brayan Pena, and probably Ramon Santiago.

Danny Worth could conceivably beat out Santiago. But Santiago is under contract and Worth has a minor league option remaining, which all but confirms the Tigers' plans there. It leaves two more spots to be decided by Brennan Boesch, Quintin Berry, Don Kelly, and Jeff Kobernus, an acquisition with Rule 5 status, who must either make the 25-man roster and remain for all of 2013 or be offered back to the Nationals.

"I know I've got pieces to mix and match," Leyland said last week, explaining how he and his boss, Dave Dombrowski, with input from the Tigers coaches, will choose those final roster spots. "There aren't many perfect players. It doesn't work that way.

"So, you try and figure which guy can help you win a game."

From The Detroit News: