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If Brandon Inge Won't Catch, Ryan Raburn Just Might

After the past week of introductory Spring Training stories - Turn that frown upside down, Brandon Inge! Look, it's Miguel Cabrera - and he can field ground balls! Welcome back, Magglio Ordonez! Whoa, we forgot Edgar Renteria is a Tiger, too! - a curiosity worth following may just have popped up in Lakeland.

Remember Ryan Raburn? The guy who was probably going to be the Detroit Tigers' super-utility guy? That is, until the coming of Miguel Cabrera ended the days of starting third basemanship (not sure that's a word, but I like it) for Brandon Inge.

Unless Detroit manages to move Inge elsewhere during Spring Training or Raburn beats out Ramon Santiago for the reserve infielder's job, the Tigers will probably utilize Raburn's remaining minor league option and put him in Toledo to start the season. Raburn, however, is doing all he can to make that a difficult decision for the Tigers' braintrust. If that means he has to put on the mask and shinguards and play some catcher, he's apparently willing to oblige.

Courtesy of Jason Beck:

Jim Leyland said this morning he plans to play Ryan Raburn all over this spring, including a few games at catcher. Ryan played it a few games in high school and college, but not much. He didn't work with the catchers in camp last week, but he was behind the plate earlier this month to catch side sessions for some of the pitchers who reported early, including Justin Verlander, Jeremy Bonderman and Preston Larrison. "Whatever keeps me around," Raburn said with a smile.

As Danny Knobler reminds us, Vance Wilson is hardly a lock to make the Opening Day roster, as his elbow continues to recover from Tommy John surgery. It's kind of hard to imagine the Tigers would throw Raburn behind the plate in regular season late-inning situations where defense is at a premium. Especially if Inge is on the roster. But this would seem to be the exact sort of thing you'd want to try in Spring Training. The Tigers already know what Raburn can give them in the outfield, and have other guys such as Freddy Guzman to look at while in Lakeland.

At the very least, he'd surely make a better emergency catcher than Neifi, wouldn't he?