Maybin looking to win Tigers' center-field spot

Veteran could end up splitting time with Gose in return to Motown

February 15th, 2016

The scene at Joker Marchant Stadium and the Tigertown complex next door looks like a construction zone, the multimillion-dollar renovation project having started to upgrade the facilities. The look of the Tigers' roster, by contrast, is pretty well set.

It's a new-look roster for Cameron Maybin, but otherwise, it's a familiar sight. It's also a familiar situation, with Maybin trying to win a starting job.

"I'm excited to be able to come back here older, smarter, a lot more mature, knowing what kind of player I am now," Maybin said last month. "I'm excited to give the Tigers fans what I think is a better Cam Maybin."

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Nearly a decade has passed since Maybin was the Tigers' center fielder of the future. He was a 20-year-old hot prospect then, a first-round pick in the 2005 Draft, viewed as the heir apparent who would put Curtis Granderson in left. The Miguel Cabrera trade thwarted that potential battle for '08.

Maybin is a veteran now. This time, a big-name trade has created a battle for him.

Though Maybin is still just 28, he's the older guy in a center-field competition with Anthony Gose, who started 125 games last season. Together, they have the one positional battle to be determined in Lakeland, Fla. While the Tigers haven't announced their fifth starter, Daniel Norris is seen as the favorite. One or two bullpen spots are open, with Drew VerHagen favored for one, but the late-inning jobs are set.

"Cam and Gosey both can play center," manager Brad Ausmus said during the Winter Caravan. "Gosey's probably played the corner outfield positions a little more than Maybin. We'll just kind of see how center field plays out."

Until the Tigers signed Justin Upton, both Maybin and Gose appeared to be in line for starting jobs -- one in center, the other in left. Detroit traded reliever Ian Krol to Atlanta for Maybin in November with the idea of playing Maybin regularly, pairing him with Gose for a speedy, athletic outfield to cover Comerica Park's large gap in left-center field.

Once the Tigers shifted plans, expanded the payroll and signed Upton, the roles changed. Maybin and Gose could end up in a lefty-righty split, but Ausmus has shown the last couple years he doesn't always subscribe to traditional platoons.

Maybin plans to be ready when full-squad workouts begin on Feb. 23.

"That's kind of been my career, having to prove myself every year," Maybin said. "I told them I'm always up for competition. I still would like to play center field. I think I serve the team best at that position. But at the end of the day, I want to win. I want to get to the playoffs for the first time in my career.

"I'm just trying to be in the lineup every day. That's my biggest thing. It's about coming in and trying to win a job. Nothing has ever been given to me, and I think that's the good thing about it. I'm used to having to go take stuff."

First pitchers/catchers workout


First full-squad workout

Feb. 23

First Spring Training game

Monday, Feb. 29 vs. Florida Southern College, 1:05 p.m., Joker Marchant Stadium

First Grapefruit League game

Tuesday, March 1 vs. Pittsburgh Pirates, 1:05 p.m., Joker Marchant Stadium

Opening Day

Tuesday, April 5, at Miami Marlins, 7:10 p.m., Marlins Park