Recent reports from Lakeland were positive on the recovery of shortstop Jose Iglesias from a chronic problem with shin splints. He has been working out and taking a small amount of batting practice, giving hope the second year shortstop would soon be back in the Tigers' lineup. It was believed new orthotics in Iglesias' shoes would help ease the pain. The original diagnosis was to keep him off the field for no more than a week.
But a week has now extended to ten days, and will be more. Despite showing improvement, Iglesias has just two at bats this spring and hasn't played in a Grapefruit League game since February 26. He has yet to run at full speed or play defense at his normally elite level during what has turned into a more extended injury rehab than first thought.
Today manager Brad Ausmus raised the possibility that Iglesias may not be ready to be in the Tigers' lineup on Opening Day.
"We’re gonna hit that point where he won’t have had enough at-bats to get ready for the season. There’s a point when, if you can’t get on the field because of injury, you have to make a decision."
Until Iglesias can prove to the Tigers he's ready to go full speed, they are looking at other internal shortstop options. As the roster currently stands, Ausmus will roll with utility man Hernan Perez as the primary backup at short. Steve Lombardozi has also seen more time at the position since Iglesias went down, though the Tigers see him as more of a back up option at 2nd and 3rd. Danny Worth may still be in the mix, holding outside shot at making the roster as a backup at shortstop.
The trio may be capable of playing big league caliber defense, but not at the elite level of Iglesias. Compounding matters is neither Perez (.348 OPS in 11 games), Lombardozzi (.500 OPS in six games) or Worth (.422 OPS in nine games) are hitting the ball with any authority.
It's quite possible the Tigers may start the season with their starting shortstop on the disabled list. When added to the uncertainty in left field after it was announced Andy Dirks would miss three months thanks to a back injury, the Tigers' lack of position player bench depth is suddenly becoming an issue.