Free agent Scott Hairston could have filled the Tigers' vacancy for a veteran right-handed-hitting outfielder to platoon with Andy Dirks in leftfield.

The Tigers looked into Hairston but didn't make him an offer, general manager Dave Dombrowski said Monday. Hairston signed with the Cubs on Sunday for $5 million over two years.

"We inquired early in the winter, but they were looking for much larger dollars at that time," Dombrowski told the Free Press.

Hairston, 32, hit a career-high 20 homers for the Mets last year in 377 at-bats. Unless the Tigers acquire another veteran like him, it's unclear who will be their fourth outfielder and share time with Dirks.

CLOSER TALK: In the two days since he arrived in camp, manager Jim Leyland has given some outlines to the case of Bruce Rondon, the rookie whom the Tigers would like to fill their vacancy at closer:

• As with previous closers, Leyland will give Rondon work in the middle of exhibition games, before the opponents' big-league hitters exit the game. "But not right away," he said.

• Leyland will work on keeping Rondon relaxed. "I'm going to let him know: 'Be yourself and show us what you've got.' "

• Asked how it feels to enter spring training without a proven closer, Leyland said, "It's a concern, but I'm really looking forward to it." Looking forward to Rondon's talent. "I'm excited," Leyland said.