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Replacing Curtis Granderson is a Two-Man Job

Curtis Granderson's broken hand presented the Detroit Tigers with a dual dilemma: Who would play center field and who would bat leadoff? Showing why he draws that big manager paycheck, Jim Leyland acted decisively and announced how both roles would be filled today, each by different players.

Brandon Inge will have his wish of playing a starting position for a major league ballclub granted, as Leyland gave him the nod as the starting center fielder on Opening Day. Given how often the Tigers played him in center during the spring, it's clear that they're pretty comfortable with him out there. Leyland wouldn't commit, however, to playing Inge in center for the duration of Granderson's absence. As the team's #2 catcher, there will probably be at least a game or two in which Inge is needed behind the plate. Who plays center field then? Stay tuned.

And leading off for your Detroit Tigers will be shortstop Edgar Renteria. He didn't bat leadoff in any games for Atlanta last season, but when leading off an inning, Renteria batted .288/.347/.318 (each of which is a lesser average than when he batted second or third in the order). This probably won't be a regular role while Granderson is on the DL either, as Leyland said Renteria would likely only lead off against right-handed pitching. Against lefties, Pudge Rodriguez is a "strong possibility" to bat first.

Maybe this is a bit of a stretch, but perhaps Granderson's struggles against left-handed pitching made it easier for the Tigers to figure out how to replace him while he's injured. Leyland was likely going to give Granderson the day off against tough left-handers anyway, and thus had to determine who would be a suitable substitute. Something else that surely helped was having to find places for Inge to play, in order to both make him happy and boost his potential trade value. The Tigers seemed to know all along what kind of luxury they had with Inge, and now he's going to pay off for them.