Kinsler leading off, Jackson fifth in spring opener
LAKELAND, Fla. -- Tigers manager Brad Ausmus hasn't yet announced his batting order for the start of the season, and he probably won't do that for a while. But he might have laid down a hint with his lineup for Tuesday's unofficial Spring Training opener against Florida Southern.
Ausmus didn't announce the full lineup, but he revealed the top half when asked how many regulars will play in the exhibition game. New Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler will bat leadoff, followed by Torii Hunter, Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez. Austin Jackson, Detroit's leadoff man for the better part of four years, will bat fifth.
Ausmus didn't reveal the rest of the lineup, because some players involved hadn't been informed of his plans. He has made communication a point of emphasis as manager, and he said early in camp that he doesn't want players reading about their roles before they're told personally.
Ever since Kinsler's arrival in the Prince Fielder trade, Detroit's leadoff spot has been a mystery. He sat atop the batting order in Texas for five of the past six seasons, reaching base safely from that spot at a .346 percentage rate for his career and at a rate of .355 last season. Austin Jackson has a .342 career OBP leading off, .337 last year.
There's no guarantee that the batting order for the first spring exhibition game equates to the batting order for Opening Day, even if the regulars are playing. Like his predecessor, Jim Leyland, Ausmus said he plans to play most of his regulars long enough to get one at-bat before substituting for them. In some years, Leyland would put a player near the top of the order to get him an at-bat early and avoid playing him in the field too much.