There's a possibility that Miguel Cabrera might open the season playing at third base. This was a thought Tigers manager Brad Ausmus raised with reporters this morning that barely drew enough interest from the beat writers to move beyond various reporters tweeting about it.
Why? Because the Tigers open their regular season on April 5 in Miami for a two-game series. Playing in a National League ballpark like that means Ausmus either has to leave DH Victor Martinez on the bench for the better part of two games, or he'll have to get a little creative with his lineups. This is nothing new.
Jason Beck of MLB.com put it into better perspective today by including a pair of quotes:
"It's odd, it's a little strange." Ausmus said. "Little bit of an inconvenience for us, because we're a team that has a DH in Victor Martinez. Should we be forced to not play Victor a game or two, or three, because of that? Especially if we're looking at the end of the season, we're fighting for a playoff spot. That's not ideal, for sure."
"Yea, Miguel is an option at third base the first couple games," Ausmus said. "He is, assuming Vic's OK at first"
This is pretty much stating the obvious by Ausmus. So is it really worth getting all that upset about?
Castellanos isn't that good at third base, anyway
From a baseball perspective, this isn't really anything to worry about. It's not like you're asking Victor Martinez to play third base anyway. You're replacing the worst defensive third baseman (two years running!) with another player who isn't very good at the position. The figuring is that you'd rather find a way to get Victor Martinez's bat in the lineup than Nick Castellanos. The math checks out. Besides that, if watching Cabrera at first has shown us anything, it's that his reflexes are as good as ever, and he can still make a solid, accurate throw when he needs to.
It's 2 games!
The other worry here is that Cabrera has not been himself in recent years. His body keeps finding new ways to break down on him: ankle injuries, a calf injury, a sore back late in September. And he wasn't a very good third baseman in the first place. And remember that time he got hit in the eye during a spring training game in 2012 when he tried to transition to third base a few years back? Why put him at risk -- on turf, at that?
But asking Cabrera to play third for two games at the start of the season, with a day off afterward as the team travels to Detroit, hardly seems like a season-changing issue. It might not even be two games. It would make sense to get Castellanos a start in at least one game anyway.
This all seems like a big "Who cares?"
The Tigers probably aren't gaining much advantage by starting Martinez. Castellanos sure seemed like he turned things around with his bat in the second half of the season. Who knows what Martinez will look like, and you're putting defensive liabilities at both corners in order to get improved bats in the lineup.
We're at the start of spring training. Ausmus was raising a possibility that might never come to fruition, and if it does is not that big a deal in the first place.
If you are wont to worry, you're going to worry. But you really shouldn't get too excited either way.