A Hall of Famer called him a Hall of Famer, the highest baseball compliment of all.

Such was the welcome that awaited Miguel Cabrera on Friday before his first workout of spring training.

"Even if he never played again, he's a Hall of Fame player already," Al Kaline said of the Tigers Triple Crown winner. "To see what he accomplished last year was unbelievable."

You can debate, if you wish, whether Cabrera has Hall of Fame credentials so soon. Some will.

Others will say if Kaline thinks so, it must be true.

But you can't argue that as praise goes for players, there are no loftier words than these — "A Hall of Famer already" — according to one who knows how difficult the game is.

As outstanding a hitter as he was, Kaline never has been one to say hitting is easy because he knows it isn't.

He also knows, and acknowledges, the challenges Comerica Park presents.

"For him to lead the league in home runs in our ballpark was amazing," Kaline said. "But so was his batting average because he doesn't run that well.

"But what I love about him the most is his joy of being on the field every day. He just seems to have a lot of fun. It's a big part of the player he is."

Kaline was "a little apprehensive" about Cabrera's move from first base to third last year, but says "he did a really good job. He has good hands, a good arm, and he did it for the team. You have to love a teammate like that."