Miggy, V-Mart positioning for Interleague Play
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Manager Brad Ausmus didn't wake up at 4 a.m. ET to watch the Dodgers play the D-backs in Australia, but the Tigers still started preparing Saturday for their first Interleague series. They'll continue to do so Sunday as well.
The Tigers' first road trip will be a five-gamer through Los Angeles to face the Dodgers and San Diego to take on the Padres. In an attempt to trot out the best possible lineup, Ausmus is working in Victor Martinez at catcher and Miguel Cabrera at third base. Martinez spent five innings behind the plate on Saturday, and Cabrera is scheduled to start Sunday's game against the Marlins at third base.
"It gives us the option depending on what starters we face going into those Interleague series," Ausmus said.
If Detroit has to face a tough left-handed starting pitcher -- like, say, Los Angeles' Clayton Kershaw -- the club could start Martinez behind the plate with Cabrera at first base, Nick Castellanos at third and Alex Avila on the bench. If the Tigers are up against a front-line right-hander, they can start Avila at catcher, Martinez at first and Cabrera at third.
"It's just another option. I wouldn't want to put Miggy out at third base in the middle of the season without him having been over there at least a time or two," Ausmus said. "Not that he couldn't do it -- I'm sure he'd be fine -- but I'd prefer that he get a look over there, at least for a game or two, going in."
Martinez held up fine behind the plate in Saturday's 9-4 loss to the Blue Jays, and he had plenty of balls in the dirt to keep him busy. Cabrera started Saturday's game at first base, where he'll spend most of the season, and Ausmus has been impressed with what he's seen in Cabrera's return to the other side of the infield.
"He's been good. He seems pretty comfortable," Ausmus said. "He's got good hands, so I don't expect that it will be a problem. ... He seems comfortable. He hasn't complained one bit about it, and he always takes his ground balls. He's been a pro."