KANSAS CITY -- Andrew Romine has played every position but catcher in his Tigers career. He had never started in right field, until Thursday.In the second inning of the Tigers' 16-4 loss to the Royals, Romine made a four-star catch, according to Statcast™. He covered 51 feet in 3.5 seconds
KANSAS CITY -- Andrew Romine has played every position but catcher in his Tigers career. He had never started in right field, until Thursday.
In the second inning of the Tigers' 16-4 loss to the Royals, Romine made a four-star catch, according to Statcast™. He covered 51 feet in 3.5 seconds to rob Alex Gordon of a leadoff hit -- a grab that had a 35 percent catch probability.
Jim Adduci was scheduled to fly into Kansas City early Wednesday afternoon from Pawtucket, R.I., where Triple-A Toledo was playing. An aircraft malfunction forced the Tigers to book him on a new ticket with a different airline, connecting in Baltimore, to get to Kauffman Stadium in time for Wednesday night's game against the Royals.
"Maybe I should have come in a little bit later, because last time I rolled in about 50 minutes before [game time] and got a couple hits," Adduci joked.
Welcome to Tigers baseball without J.D. Martinez, as manager Brad Ausmus mixes and matches four players in two spots. It might not be easy, but he'll make the best of it.
"We'll definitely miss the bat," Ausmus said. "You're not going to replace the bat."
The Tigers knew this conundrum was coming ever since they decided last month that they would be sellers leading up to the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. Martinez, a free agent this winter, was going to be dealt unless the Tigers made a run for a playoff spot. He was traded during batting practice on Tuesday.
The Tigers have no natural full-time replacements, though they have plenty of names. Their top outfield prospect, Christin Stewart, is still developing at Double-A Erie, batting .269 with 20 home runs and 65 RBIs in 91 games but with a high strikeout rate. Steven Moya, once their towering outfielder of the future, is off the 40-man roster, batting .170 (36-for-212) with three home runs between Erie and Toledo. Tyler Collins, who opened the season in Detroit, is batting .239 (27-for-113) with four homers in Toledo.
That left Adduci, who went on an early-season tear for Detroit before an oblique injury landed him on the disabled list in May, to get the call from Toledo and join a group that includes Alex Presley, Michael Mahtook and Romine.
"Now, you can get a left-handed bat in the lineup," Ausmus said. "But let's be honest: J.D.'s right-handed bat against a righty is better than most left-handed bats against a righty. In that sense, you're not going to be replace the offense. We'll probably cover a little bit more ground in right field, but the offense won't be replaced."
Martinez registered at minus-5 Defensive Runs Saved and minus-4.5 Ultimate Zone Rating this season, despite missing the first six weeks with a right midfoot sprain.
With Royals left-hander Danny Duffy facing the Tigers on Thursday, Romine and Mahtook started in right and center field, respectively. It was the rare occasion when the switch-hitting Romine started for his right-handed bat.
It was also the first start in right field for Romine, who now has a start at every defensive position but pitcher and catcher this season. Dodgers utility man Enrique Hernandez is the only other Major League player with that feat this season. Former Tigers superutility player Don Kelly started at all those spots but never in the same year. Shane Halter was the last Tiger to start at all those positions in one season, in 2000.
Halter made another bit of history that year, when he played all nine positions on the final day of the season. Ausmus, then the Tigers' catcher, started that game behind the plate, then moved to third, second and first base by game's end. If the Tigers are well out of contention at season's end, one wonders if the idea could be revived for Romine.
Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.