LAKELAND, Fla. -- It's early.
Does Austin Jackson's bouncing around in the lineup mean anything? Maybe. Maybe not. It's early.
How about the performance of (insert name here)? Maybe. Maybe not. It's early.
Two Grapefruit League games and the annual Florida Southern exhibition into camp, there's not much anyone, especially first-year manager Brad Ausmus, can say about anything.
So Ausmus especially has been careful with his words, taking his time in answering questions, seemingly thinking about even the individual syllables he chooses as he goes through a response. He's doing his best not to tip his hand or make any missteps as he spends his first weeks with an office filled with media members.
"It's very early in spring training to categorize anything," Ausmus said after the Tigers' 5-2 victory over the Braves at Joker Marchant Stadium. "Guys like Miggy, Torii, Kinsler, they're only getting two or three at bats a game. It's tough to evaluate in spring training and it's extremely tough to evaluate the first two-three games of spring training. It's more about preparation than evaluation at this point."'
So, Austin Jackson. He batted sixth on Thursday, as opposed to his normal spot at the top of the order, where he was under Jim Leyland. Jackson went 2-for-3 there. Good sign? Should we even begin to read into that?
According to Ausmus, no.
"It's difficult to do anything with anyone in particular when you have some guys playing, some guys not playing on any given day," he said. "When (Jackson)'s in there, try him in a few different spots. At this point in spring training, especially with as many guys we have, it's going to get mixed up.
"If we decide he hits leadoff, it's not like he's never done it before. It's an easy adjustment back. Really right now, it's just about getting playing time, getting at bats."
Pitching? It's just about getting work in right now. Getting legs and arms ready for the regular season. Joe Nathan is the closer. That's about the only given. Committing to how anyone else slots into the bullpen this early could only lead to issues later.
OK, so we know he's not going to talk about his lineup, offer no hints on his bullpen. How about Ausmus reflect a bit about himself. After all, watch this Tigers team play for one game and you can already tell it's not one of those Detroit clubs from the past that frustrated fans with poor fundamentals. Surely it would be OK for Ausmus to admit as such, right?
Asked what he thought the Tigers' spring camp would be known for when all is said and done, Ausmus refused to take the bait. "I don't know," he said. "That's a good question." Given a different version of the question, he did allow for what he hoped viewers of his club would say. "That we got our work done. That we're prepared for the season."
It's tempting to respond with more of the same. Will the Tigers be prepared? Only a fool or a journalist rushes into early proclamations, and watching just one game is a smaller sample than three or two.
It's early. That much we know. We can admit that. It doesn't have to mean anything to say. It's early.
But early on, it's safe to say the newly-configured Tigers looked just fine.