April 30th, 2011

Saturday: Tigers at Indians

The Tigers are sticking with their lineup from Friday. No track records to go on for Detroit against Alex White, the Indians starter making his Major League debut.

TIGERS

  1. Austin Jackson, CF
  2. Will Rhymes, 2B
  3. Magglio Ordonez, DH
  4. Miguel Cabrera, 1B
  5. Brennan Boesch, RF
  6. Ryan Raburn, LF
  7. Jhonny Peralta, SS
  8. Alex Avila, C
  9. Brandon Inge, 3B

P: Rick Porcello

No Toledo shuttle in sight (yet) for Tigers

You kind of got the idea where Jim Leyland was going with his conversation without naming the destination. And in some ways, you can see his point, at least at this point early in this season.

“If Magglio doesn’t hit, then I’m an idiot,” Leyland said.

A few seconds later, Leyland added to it.

“If Raburn doesn’t produce, then I’m stupid,” Leyland said.

Leyland is counting on Ordonez and Raburn producing. Ordonez, in particular, he’s counting on to hit in the third spot, as he has for years.

If any current Tiger fits the definition of a track record, it’s Ordonez, based on more than a decade of Major League at-bats. The rest are in varying degrees of experience.

The point remains that his lineup is interconnected. If Leyland wanted to give Scott Sizemore a shot, somebody out of the group of Ordonez, Raburn, Brennan Boesch or Victor Martinez would have to sit on a given day. It isn’t as simple as swapping Sizemore for Will Rhymes, at least not when Martinez comes back next week.

Once Martinez returns, the possibility of Raburn playing second base becomes one way the Tigers can fit him in with Boesch, Ordonez and Martinez in the same lineup. It’s difficult to envision the Tigers calling up Sizemore if they don’t have everyday playing time for him. But until they sort out the outfield mix, it’s hard to find the playing time.

Austin Jackson is in a little different scenario. Even with two singles Friday night, he struck out twice as he tries to work his way out of his early slump.

The offensive component involves a young man trying to find his decisive back at the plate, and track some pitches better. The defensive component is a Gold Glove caliber center fielder when he’s on, and one of the few players who can cover most of the ground in the gaps with Ordonez and Boesch on the corners. That aspect can’t be easy on the Tigers when they try to look for signs Jackson might be at least trying to get out of his rut at the plate.

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