We won't have to wait too much longer for the Tigers to tell us today's lineup. Which is good. Because we have a good question that needs to be answered.
Is Ryan Raburn really the starting left fielder, or is he in a platoon situation?
In four games this year, he's started twice. That's once against a left-handed pitcher, and one out of three times against a right-handed pitcher. In his place in left field both games was Brennan Boesch.
Trying to find the thought processes behind Leyland's lineups is difficult. He told Tom Gage of the Detroit News recently:
"I start the lineup that I feel gives us the best chance of winning the game that day."
Well thats, uhm, helpful. So that means all we can do is infer based on his actions.
So with a right-hander starting for Baltimore tonight -- Brad Bergesen -- which outfielder will be in left field? Will Raburn lose a third start in fifth games? Will Brennan Boesch sit against a right-handed pitcher? Will left-handed hitting catcher Alex Avila take a seat against a right-handed pitcher to make room? Or will Leyland manage to fit a camel through the eye of a needle with a different solution?
Not that there's anything wrong with finding Boesch some playing time, mind you. It's just that when the offseason is spent saying Raburn is your left fielder, it seems a bit early to add the words "part-time" to that designation, doesn't it? If you bat right-handed, it's no fun being in a platoon situation when most of the pitchers you face are right-handed as well.
Raburn, you'll recall, seems to thrive on consistent playing time and predictability. In both of the past two years, he stumbled around as a bench player only to lock in when he was given the full-time starting job in left field.
Telling him (and the media) the entire offseason that Raburn is the primary guy only to pull the rug out by the second series of the year just makes little sense.
But maybe that's not what's going on. We're four games into the season. There's plenty of time to settle into a regular lineup and a regular starter in left field.
It's just that the decisions to start the year have left us with plenty of questions already. How Leyland answers them will be interesting to see.