Wearing a Toronto Blue Jays uniform and standing in his first-base coach's box, Torey Lovullo found out how much he still belongs to the Tigers.

"Seven Tigers fans were saying, 'Torey, good to see you,' " Lovullo said Sunday of what happened Saturday before the exhibition opener with the Tigers. "It was like I was everybody's son in Detroit when I was there. Everybody was pulling for me. Sparky gave me that great opportunity, and everybody seems to remember the name. It's like people are saying, 'You were everywhere, but you're still a Detroit Tiger.'

"I'm really proud of that. I am really proud of that. I follow the Tigers like they are still my own team. I'm really proud of the amount of time and effort they're putting into winning the Central. It's fun to watch."

The Tigers traded Lovullo to the Yankees in 1991, two years after manager Sparky Anderson turned him into a spring rookie phenom and the starting first baseman. Within weeks after the season began, Lovullo was back in the minors. He played several years in the majors with other clubs, but he never became an everyday player over a full season.

But all the while, he was gaining wisdom to become a manager. He has distinguished himself in that role for the past several seasons in the minors.