It started with demands and ended with a handshake and a hug. And $36 million.

Cecil Fielder got it all Thursday, signing a five-year contract with the Detroit Tigers that makes him the second-highest paid player in baseball."It could have been a situation where it took more time. But Mr. Ilitch made it clear he wanted to get it done today," Fielder said of new Tigers owner Mike Ilitch after signing a five-year contract for $36 million.

Indeed. Jerry Walker, the Tigers' general manager, had been dealing with Fielder and his agents since the end of the 1992 season. But nothing happened because Walker was never allowed to play with a full deck.

"Mr. Ilitch was able to use numbers I wasn't able to use," Walker said.

Ilitch, founder of Little Caesar's pizza, also owns the NHL's Detroit Red Wings. By his own admission, he's used to winning.

But for several months after buying the Tigers last summer, Ilitch had a problem often associated with new car buyers. It's called sticker shock. He couldn't believe the salaries baseball owners were throwing around.

"It was different," Ilitch said. "Salaries are moving strange in baseball. It's changing rapidly. I think it's going to change. We're just kind of riding the wave right now."

Fielder's $7.2 million annual average trails only Barry Bonds, who will average $7,291,667 under his $43.75 million, six-year contract with the San Francisco Giants.

Fielder made $4.5 million last year, tied for eighth-most in the majors. His new contract calls for salaries of $2.2 million in the first two seasons and $7.2 million a year in the final three. He got a record $10 million signing bonus.

"It's a good feeling," said Fielder, who joined the Tigers after playing in Japan. "It's peace of mind."

Fielder, a 29-year-old first baseman, is the first player since Babe Ruth to lead the major leagues in RBIs for three consecutive seasons. He drove in 132 runs in 1990, followed that with 133 RBIs in 1991 and 124 last season.

He hit 51 homers in 1990 and followed it with 44 in 1991 and 35 last year.

"I think I've always shown, since I've been here, that I was a marquee-type of player," Fielder said.

Since the end of the 1992 season, Walker has signed virtually all of the Tigers' key veterans. Those include Lou Whitaker, Tony Phillips and Travis Fryman. Only Mike Henneman remains unsigned. Walker also has signed free agent pitcher Mike Moore.

Fielder's agent, Bob Gilhooly, said the ballplayer plans to spend at least part of his money helping underprivileged children.

"Cecil has strong commitments that go beyond baseball," Gilhooly said. "This goes beyond the realm of tax advantage or anything like that. He just wants to do it. Nobody, in my opinion, has the bond with kids thatCecil does."

He has always been a gentle giant. And now the giant is rich.

At Minneapolis, Bert Blyleven, the 41-year-old right-hander who is 13 victories shy of 300, said Thursday night he has signed a minor league contract with the Minnesota Twins.

Blyleven told WCCO Radio via telephone from his home in Anaheim, Calif., that he his contract includes a minimal salary and is loaded with incentives.

Blyleven started his career with the Twins in 1970 and went on to play for Texas, Pittsburgh and Cleveland. He returned to Minnesota in 1985 and helped the Twins win the 1987 World Series against St. Louis.

He left Minnesota again in 1989 to join California and spent all of 1991 on the disabled list. He was 8-12 with a 4.74 ERA last season with the Angels and has a career record of 287-250.

Blyleven was a 20-game winner for the Twins in 1973 when he posted a 20-17 record.

At Milwaukee, Robin Yount and the Milwaukee Brewers finalized an agreement reached Dec. 3 for the 37-year-old outfielder to return for his 20th season with the club.

The contract is reportedly worth $3.5 million and gives the Brewers a 1994 option. Yount reached 3,000th hits last season and hit .264 with eight homers and 77 RBIs.

At Kansas City, Mo., George Brett announced he's returning for a 20th season with the Kansas City Royals. Brett, who will be 40 in May, will take a cut to $2.5 million from $3.1 million. He reached 3,000 hits last season and is the only player to win batting titles in three decades.

At St. Louis, left-hander Rob Murphy signed a one-year contract with the St. Louis Cardinals. The 32-year-old Murphy, 3-1 with a 4.40 ERA with Houston last season, will receive a base salary of $600,000.

At Chicago, the Cubs signed pitchers Mike Harkey and Jeff Robinson and outfielder Kevin Roberson to one-year contracts.

Harkey, 26, was 4-0 with a 1.89 ERA in seven starts last season and Robinson, 32, was 4-3 with one save and a 3.00 ERA. Roberson, 24, hit .305 with six homers and 34 RBIs for Iowa of the American Association.