Infielder fills Detroit's need after losing Iglesias for at least five months
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Tigers acted to counter the loss of shortstop Jose Iglesias on Friday, acquiring infielder Andrew Romine from the Angels for pitcher Jose Alvarez.
Detroit had revealed Thursday that Iglesias, expected to be the everyday shortstop, will miss at least five months with stress fractures in both legs. The acquisition of Romine doesn't fully replace Iglesias, but team president and general manager Dave Dombrowski believes Romine can combine with Hernan Perez or Danny Worth to capably fill the position in Iglesias' absence.
"For us, we talked about having a shortstop that can catch the ball and run a little bit. He fits that description," Dombrowski said. "How we play him with the other guys we have, I'm really not sure at this point. We look for him to be on our big league club. He'll be part of that mix.
"How else we go with that mix, I'm not sure at this point, but he's a guy we feel very comfortable with and fits the description of what we've been looking for as a guy that can catch the ball in a tight game, has some experience and can do that job for us."
The deal for Romine, a 28-year-old switch-hitter, came together quickly, according to Dombrowski. No other moves are in the cards at the moment, but Dombrowski also didn't shut the door on possibly acquiring another player.
"I don't anticipate it happening, but we have placed a lot of phone calls and we'll see what happens," Dombrowski said.
The ultimate lineup decisions will be up to first-year manager Brad Ausmus, but Dombrowski said Romine "most likely" will share time with Perez or Worth, who both hit right-handed. Dombrowski called Eugenio Suarez, who has yet to play above Double-A, "more of a longshot." Detroit also has Steve Lombardozzi as a backup infielder, although he has played sparingly at shortstop as a professional.
The Angels selected Romine in the fifth round of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft out of Arizona State, and he has appeared briefly for the club in each of the past four seasons, hitting .250/.303/.270 with no home runs and three doubles in 174 total plate appearances. At Triple-A Salt Lake last season, Romine played in 89 games and hit .287/.367/.391 with four home runs, 16 doubles and 15 stolen bases. He has gone back and forth between switch-hitting and hitting only left-handed throughout his career, but Ausmus doesn't expect to use him in a strict platoon.
"He's a guy who puts the ball in play, doesn't strike out a lot, can run a little bit, will take his walks," Dombrowski said. "He's more of a guy that makes things happen, but he's not a guy that's going to drive the ball out of the ballpark or be an extra-base threat."
But the Tigers are looking primarily for defensive prowess in place of the slick-fielding Iglesias and believe Romine could provide that. He played mostly shortstop in the Minor Leagues, and Dombrowski said he comes with an enthusiastic recommendation from Tigers first base and infield coach Omar Vizquel, who served as a roving infield instructor in the Angels' system last year.
"Romine is a quality solution to an unfortunate problem," Ausmus said.
"I've done a little homework with people I know who have been around him. All the reports are good."
Romine was battling for a backup infield job with the Angels and is out of Minor League options, so he wasn't too surprised about the trade.
"I'm pumped," he said of going to the Tigers. "It's a great team. You can't argue that. They're going to be going for a world championship every year. That's always a good team to go through and be a part of it, and I'll try to help them win as much as I can."
The Tigers had signed Alvarez as a free agent in November 2012, and the left-hander made his Major League debut with the club last season. He started six of his 14 games, going 1-5 with a 5.82 ERA, 31 strikeouts and 16 walks in 38 2/3 innings.
Alvarez could have been the first option to step into the Tigers' starting rotation if needed this year, but Dombrowski felt he was expendable due to the play of other pitchers, including southpaws Kyle Lobstein and Robbie Ray.
"We're a little deeper than we have been in the past, so this was something we needed to do, that made sense for us," Dombrowski said.