The light on his cell phone flashed repeatedly, a harbinger of unwanted and unexpected news. There were 30 messages in all, Curtis Granderson remembers, and each one told the same surprising story.
He had been traded.
"That was how I found out," said the Yankees centerfielder, who learned the news as he was shopping. "It was all from friends and family; it wasn't from either the Yankees or the Tigers letting me know I had gotten traded at that point. So I had to drive home and then turn on the TV and, sure enough, got it confirmed that way."
The three-team deal between the Yankees, Tigers and Diamondbacks sent Granderson to the Yankees for then-minor-leaguer Austin Jackson and reliever Phil Coke. Yankees pitcher Ian Kennedy -- who went 21-4 for the Diamondbacks in 2011 -- and Tigers pitcher Edwin Jackson were sent to Arizona.
Austin Jackson had just moved into his new home in Dallas when he got the call from his agent. "He was pretty much pumped up," said Jackson, who was sitting on the couch at the time. "He saw an opportunity there for me . . . He put me at ease a lot. It was kind of tough because I made friends."
Initially, Granderson and Jackson asked the inevitable question, "Why?" But both have come to believe it was for the best. Granderson said he understood it was a numbers game and that the financial pieces just didn't fit for the Tigers anymore. But he still has fans in Detroit, regardless of uniform.
"I think they'll love it," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said of Granderson's return to Comerica Park. "He's all the things that are right about baseball. He's a very intelligent guy. He's had a wonderful year. We're happy for him. We're also happy with the guy we got in return. That worked out pretty good for us.''
MVP candidate Granderson finished the regular season first in runs (136), second in home runs (41) and first in RBIs (119) in the American League.
Though Jackson's statistics are much less impressive, the 24-year-old made an immediate impact as a starter for the Tigers in 2010 and this season became the 18th player in franchise history to post double-digits in doubles (22), stolen bases (22), triples (11) and home runs (10).
"It's pretty incredible," Jackson said. "I don't think you really see that too much, where it pretty much worked out for everyone involved in that trade.
"It was just a lot of guys ahead of me that were great ballplayers and they're still playing right now. The opportunity was definitely there for me [in Detroit]."
Both players said the Yankees-Tigers series brings an added sense of emotion; old friendships facing off against newly formed allegiances. No one is more excited than Granderson for Game 3 in Detroit.
"Any time you get a chance to play against them, it's always exciting, even in spring training," Granderson said. "And then now getting a chance to go there in the postseason, it'll be that much more fun."