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Iglesias to open season on DL with shin issues

Tigers shortstop has missed past two weeks with stress reactions in both legs

VIERA, Fla. -- Tigers shortstop Jose Iglesias will open the season on the 15-day disabled list, team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski confirmed Sunday morning. How long he'll be out, and the exact details of his shin condition, are still being determined.

Iglesias, who has missed the past two weeks with what has been termed as a stress reaction in both shins, will visit another foot and ankle specialist, Dr. Thomas Clanton of The Steadman Clinic in Colorado, for another opinion on his injury Tuesday. He could visit another specialist from there, something his agent, Scott Boras, stated Saturday night.

The Tigers said they will reserve comment on the injury until the specialists have weighed in.

"Really at this point, anything beyond that is more speculation," Dombrowski told reporters at Space Coast Stadium.

Dombrowski did not confirm or deny a Sunday morning report from ESPN that Iglesias will be out until midseason with a stress fracture. Instead, he said it's too early to make a determination.

"I do not know that," Dombrowski said when asked about a timetable on Iglesias' return. "He's hurt and we're not sure when he's going to be back. That [report] could be the case, I'm not saying it's not, but I'm not ready by any means to make that proclamation until he goes out and sees the doctor."

While they wait, though, the Tigers are clearly preparing themselves for the possibility that Iglesias will miss a significant chunk of the season. Manager Brad Ausmus referenced the possibility of carrying two shortstops -- not for a lefty-righty platoon, but for the potential lack of an everyday option to replace him.

"It has nothing to do with a platoon," Ausmus said. "It has to do with whether the guy could handle it full time."

Dombrowski did not rule out the possibility of bringing in another shortstop. For now, the team plans to look internally at prospects Hernan Perez and Eugenio Suarez along with utility infielder Danny Worth. All three have played a good share of shortstop this spring since Iglesias was sidelined.

None of them were projected to make the team when Spring Training opened. Perez and Suarez were on track to potentially open the season as the double-play combination at Triple-A Toledo.

Perez is a natural second baseman, and filled in on a part-time basis in Detroit while Omar Infante missed a month with an ankle injury last summer. However, he has played a good amount of shortstop in his pro career, starting last season there at Double-A Erie before Suarez was promoted.

"He's a baseball player," Ausmus said. "He sees what's going on. He knows what's happening on the field. He's got a good idea. And he can handle the bat."

Suarez has yet to play above Double-A, but his defense is believed to be Major League-ready.

"I think in a perfect world, Suarez would get more at-bats before he becomes a Major League player," Ausmus said. "I'm not really concerned whether he can handle it defensively. I think he could. My only concern would be if he struggled offensively at the Major League level, would that affect his defense? But from a defensive standpoint, I think he'd be fine."

Worth is the veteran of the group, having been up and down between Detroit and Toledo as a utility infielder for the past three years. The 28-year-old was taken off the 40-man roster last fall, but came to camp on a non-roster invite.

Of the three, Worth has been having the best camp at the plate. He's batting .300 (9-for-30) with seven RBIs.

"We've liked him in the past," Dombrowski said. "He's been the last guy cut. ... He's played in the big leagues over two years, he can run a little bit, he's a smart player and you have to remember what you're looking for."

Both Dombrowski and Ausmus indicated defense will be the priority for whoever fills the spot. After all, defense was the clear priority with Iglesias in the first place.

"I think we need to keep it in perspective," Dombrowski said. "There's no question [Iglesias is] a very fine player, but for us, from an offensive perspective, it's the bottom of our order. It's not the middle of our order. I think it's very important that whoever we have catches the ball, plays defense. That's extremely important for us."

At this point, they think they can fill that need with the guys they have. Dombrowski did not, however, close any avenues toward other options, such as free agents. A lot of that, he indicated, depends on how long Iglesias will be out.

"Of course we will keep a pulse on what's going on outside the organization," he said. "But at this point, if we had to open internally, we're content there and we'll just analyze the situation as it rolls on.

"If somebody says, 'Oh, go make a trade for such and such player,' it's really hard to do until you really know what the case is as far as how long he's going to be out. ... I've gotten two calls already this morning from other clubs."

That timetable has been the big mystery, and remains so. What began as an expected one-week absence now could put a season at risk.

Iglesias saw a Lakeland based foot and ankle specialist last week and received an adjustment in his orthotics that he has been wearing since at least last year. The initial adjustment, adding extra cushion under the foot, made an immediate difference according to Iglesias. From there, the doctor analyzed video of Iglesias' running stride.

Iglesias resumed workouts since then, taking batting practice and fielding ground balls at shortstop. However, he continued to feel pain while running, specifically while slowing down.

Iglesias tried running as recently as Thursday, but continued to feel pain.

"He can run," head athletic trainer Kevin Rand explained earlier this week, "but slowing down is where he has the biggest issue. And then the problem is that as he progresses, it gets a little worse."

That prompted the Tigers to consult with Dr. Rick Smith, a Winter Haven based chiropractor. He provided Iglesias with "a microcurrent machine with biofeedback," for pain management.

Iglesias has been bothered by shin issues since last season in Boston, before he was traded to Detroit at the non-waiver Trade Deadline. When Iglesias was sidelined two weeks ago, the Tigers were hoping to figure out the cause once and for all and get rid of it.

Red Sox manager John Farrell referenced that history Sunday morning.

"There were some games where we had to get him off his feet because he felt some pain and some soreness there," Farrell told reporters. "But to see what's come out now with the report, I feel sorry for the kid. He's an exciting player."

Jason Beck is a reporter for Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason.

Detroit Tigers, Jose Iglesias