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From Venezuela to Detroit: The Tigers' New Corner Infielders

Last week, Jason Beck began his weekly series of looking at the Tigers by each position leading up to Spring Training with a profile of the team's catchers. This week, he takes a look at Detroit's corner infielders, which have changed drastically from last season.

As you know, Carlos Guillen will be moving from shortstop to first base full-time. And Miguel Cabrera brings his mighty bat up north from Florida. The Tigers should see a significant boost in offensive production, as two of the weaker bats from last season - Sean Casey and Brandon Inge - will be replaced in the lineup.

There's a concern, of course, that the infield defense will suffer without Inge's glove at third base, but the team seems to think Cabrera will put in the necessary work (including playing in the Venezuelan League) to become better at his position.

The Tigers consulted with their scouts on Cabrera as a third baseman before they made the deal. Dombrowski said they concluded that Cabrera's weight was an issue, and that his range will improve once he reports to Spring Training with a lighter frame. According to the Tigers reports and from Cabrera himself, he has lost about 15 pounds since season's end while working out in his native Venezuela.

"We think he can play third," Dombrowski said last month. "He has soft hands. He has a strong arm. Of course, he doesn't have the [same] range [as before]. He's a little bit heavier. I think it'll be important for him when he's in shape. He'll be a little more nimble and agile at that point."

And though Casey had a reputation as a slick-fielding first baseman, Guillen should provide much better range at that position with the skills he brings over from shortstop.

He's a different style of first baseman than the Tigers have had in years, boasting a shortstop's range and glove but not a typical first baseman's size. Statistically, he more than held his own, committing just one error in 203 total chances while ending up with a perfect 1.000 zone rating.

As we talked about earlier this week, however, Inge shouldn't necessarily be scratched from the corner infield mix. If the Tigers aren't able to accommodate him with a trade to a team in need of a third baseman, Inge will very likely be taking his share of ground balls at the hot corner.