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A sometimes-irreverent look at Detroit's Boys of Summer, the Tigers, as they try to return to the top of the American League Central.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Phil Coke returns to Tigers after birth of first daughter, Mickenzie LouAnn

Phil Coke knows the incredible pressure of being handed the baseball in Yankee Stadium as a rookie, being asked to fill in for the greatest closer of all time, Mariano Rivera, and expected to hold onto a lead.

But that pales in comparison with the bundle of responsibility he was handed in the wee hours of Saturday morning, when doctors at Henry Ford Hospital in West Bloomfield handed him his newborn daughter, Mickenzie LouAnn Coke.

“All of a sudden, that seems easy,” the lefty relief pitcher said Sunday, remembering that first save on May 18, 2009, just 24 hours after he’d blown an eighth-inning lead. “Hopefully, I don’t eat my words.”

It also seemed much easier than what his wife, Bobbie, had gone through, with just shy of 24 hours of labor before Mickenzie arrived at 2:22 a.m.

“She’s so, so tough. She makes me feel like such a girl. But, then again, if I feel like a girl, I’m tough, too. She’s tougher than me,” said a clearly exhausted Phil in the Tigers’ locker room Sunday morning, after he’d distributed cigars to teammates.

“It was unbelievable. She was up walking around yesterday, and they were concerned about ... they weren’t sure if she’d be able to or not.

“She just hopped up, and thought nothing of it. I was like: ‘Whoa!’ Extra strong. Mama is extra strong.”

Coke admitted it would probably be hard to justify any trip to the disabled list from here on out, too.

“Hey, you know what? My arm better be falling off my body. ... I will never come off the field for a boo-boo. It better be broke,” he joked.

“I was thinking about things that everybody says, ‘Oh, the last month’s going to be brutal on her, and she’s going to have a bad attitude, hormonal swings.’ I’m like, ‘OK.’ My wife’s awesome. I don’t know what everyone’s complaining about. My wife was amazing the whole time, then just graceful through everything.”

Coke missed both of the Tigers’ first two games of the series with the White Sox and, while they’d had the news of the baby’s arrival, they hadn’t seen Coke himself until he wandered into Jim Leyland’s Comerica Park office during the manager’s pregame media session. The relief pitcher had spent Friday night at the hospital, as well as all day Saturday, before going home to get sleep.

“It definitely gives you perspective on different aspects of life. ... She’s every bit of that word: beautiful,” Coke said, admitting that no warnings beforehand prepared him for the moment that he was handed his daughter.

“No, that was an incredible, incredible feeling. I still don’t quite have words to describe what I was feeling. I still don’t. I’ve been thinking about it all the time, and every time I look at (her picture on) my phone, I get a little teary-eyed.”


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