J.D.'s absence mandates outfield shuffle

April 1st, 2017

JUPITER, Fla. -- With J.D. Martinez beginning the 2017 season on the Disabled List with a sprained right foot, Tigers manager Brad Ausmus is left to juggle the outfield until his return.
"We'll platoon right, semi-platoon center, and see how it goes, and hope J.D. comes back sooner than later," Ausmus said of his starting right fielder.
Martinez is scheduled to come off the disabled list April 9, but Ausmus said he felt with certainty the injury would keep him sidelined for longer than that.

"You can't really say how quickly he'll progress once the cast comes off," Ausmus said. "But I think in the first couple of days after getting the cast off, we should have an indication. Hopefully maybe by Wednesday or Thursday next week we'll have a more accurate time frame.
"Certainly, the injury to J.D. changed our plans a little bit."
Ausmus said he plans to platoon and in Martinez's place. Both can play all three outfield positions.

"Generally speaking, they're going to play right [field] right now as long as J.D. is not around," Ausmus said.
Collins hit .235 in 56 games for the Tigers last season, while Mahtook hit .195 in 65 games for Tampa Bay. Ausmus said he would utilize in center field against left-handed pitchers. Jones hit .214 in 13 games for the Tigers in 2016.
"[Jones] might get in there against certain righties," Ausmus said. "[Andrew] Romine will play some center against righties as well."
Romine saw action in 109 games for the Tigers last season, and hit .236. But the Tigers don't have an everyday center fielder.

"We feel like Jones' defense would be a huge asset," Ausmus said. "He's swung the bat well. We certainly don't want to stunt his development. Hopefully we can put him in a position to succeed offensively against the pitchers he faces. He can track down some balls in center field; help our pitchers out."
Regardless of which players get the nod, it's a speedy defense that Ausmus will employ in the outfield.
"It's got more speed. Speed generally doesn't hurt you when it comes to outfield defense," Ausmus said. "Still going to miss J.D.'s bat, though."