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Dixon 'ready for the challenge' of everyday role

With Kinsler traded to Angels, time is now for 2nd baseman
MLB.com @beckjason

LAKELAND, Fla. -- The representatives from Wilson came through Tigertown a few weeks ago with custom-made infield gloves for Dixon Machado. After trying out the blue and gray Tigers-themed gloves, he stashed them into his locker in the Spring Training clubhouse alongside the Venezuelan-themed glove he ordered last year.

Then, as he readied to hit the fields for workouts, he pulled out his game-ready glove It's the same glove he has used the past couple of years.

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LAKELAND, Fla. -- The representatives from Wilson came through Tigertown a few weeks ago with custom-made infield gloves for Dixon Machado. After trying out the blue and gray Tigers-themed gloves, he stashed them into his locker in the Spring Training clubhouse alongside the Venezuelan-themed glove he ordered last year.

Then, as he readied to hit the fields for workouts, he pulled out his game-ready glove It's the same glove he has used the past couple of years.

View Full Game Coverage

"It's fine, and I feel comfortable with it," Machado said. "And I didn't use it that much last year."

He laughed a little after that last part. Considering how much time Machado spent on Detroit's bench last year, he deserves to chuckle. Now that the wait is over, he can smile about it.

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

While the Tigers are debating whether to carry Victor Reyes as a Rule 5 Draft pick this season, Machado was almost like a Rule 5 guy last year, carried on the Major League roster as a little-used utility infielder. Detroit would've rather had him playing every day at Triple-A Toledo, but he's out of Minor League options, and the team didn't want to risk losing him on a waiver claim like they did Hernan Perez a few years ago, especially knowing a rebuild was ahead.

After just 181 plate appearances and 41 starts last year, the wait is over. With Ian Kinsler traded to the Angels in December, Machado's time in the Tigers' regular lineup is finally here.

"This is what you've been working hard for all your life, to become an everyday player," Machado said. "Hopefully everything is going to be all right and you show people that you can play every day for the next 10 years. Hopefully …

"Yeah, it's a great opportunity. I'm just happy to be here, happy to be in that role, and I'm just going to go out there and try my best."

The Tigers, in turn, get a chance to see what they have in the 26-year-old Venezuelan as they try to figure out their long-term infield picture. It's a different audition than the one Machado has put on in Spring Training the past few years, when he tried to make a case in limited at-bats that he deserved a chance.

Machado put up highlight plays in camp the past few seasons, but he has been blocked in the lineup by Kinsler at second and Jose Iglesias at shortstop. Now he has to concentrate on the long game -- not just putting up highlights, but providing steady production in the field and at the plate.

Machado has had a decent spring hitting with a line-drive approach. He doubled twice on Monday off Orioles starter Chris Tillman, then added two more hits in Tuesday's 8-3 win over the Yankees. He's batting .350 (14-for-40) this spring with three extra-base hits.

By contrast, Machado is a .246 career hitter in regular-season play, including a .259 (43-for-166) average with a .621 OPS last year. But he has never had the benefit of everyday at-bats.

"You're going to face good pitching every day," Machado said, "and sometimes you're going to face great pitchers. So I'm just going to try to live in the moment and try to do the best every time I go out there and learn. You're going to learn every day something different, like how to hit this ball or that, how they're pitching you."

Along those same lines, the Tigers want Machado concentrating on being an everyday second baseman. Though Machado's natural position is shortstop, and he could be an everyday player there next year if Iglesias leaves as a free agent, manager Ron Gardenhire has said he wants Machado focusing solely on second base this year rather than backing up Iglesias.

"I'm excited. I'm really happy," Machado said. "I feel like I'm ready for the challenge. I'm going to do the best that I can do."

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.

Detroit Tigers, Dixon Machado