The late-season mystery of Omar Infante

While Jim Leyland was waiting in his office Monday morning for word on Austin Jackson, he admitted he briefly considered a different idea to fill his outfield for their critical game against the White Sox. Without Jackson, he at least thought about moving second baseman Omar Infante to left field and starting Danny Worth at second base. He soon decided against it, he said, because he didn’t think it would be fair asking Infante to play in the outfield for the first time in two years.

Given Infante’s remarks after Monday’s 5-4 loss to the White Sox, it’s fair to wonder how much confidence he has playing second right now.

“I don’t know how to explain it,” Infante said. “I practice a lot during BP. I do everything — double plays, throws to first base. I don’t know what happened, because last year I played way different. When I’ve been here in Detroit, I don’t know. … I’ve been a little tight. I know the team is competing in the division. I don’t have an excuse. I have to do the little things.”

This is not an attempt to make Infante the scapegoat for the Tigers’ failure to take back the division race. Heck, it’s really not even fair to pin all the blame on him for Monday’s loss. Though it was Infante’s error that brought in the deciding run in the fifth inning, it was Prince Fielder’s decision whether to try to scoop it and make a do-or-die play for the third out or maybe sacrifice the out and make sure to stop the ball. He went with the do-or-die play and, well, you know what happened.

More than anything, it’s an acknowledgement of what has become apparent: Infante looks like a different, less certain defender over the last few weeks than the confident player who returned to his old organization from Miami in late July. It’s not as simple as the error sheet.

“I don’t know why, but I’m a little tight,” Infante said. “I’ve made a lot of errors. I don’t care if I make errors if the team does everything. If I make errors and the team wins, I feel good. But when we don’t win, I feel bad for that.”

Infante made three errors in his first eight games after the trade, but settled down after that, looking like by far the best everyday second baseman the Tigers had since they parted ways with Placido Polanco three years ago.

Then came an August 24 game against the Angels at Comerica Park, a 2-1 Tigers loss decided on a sixth-inning, two-out, two-run double from Howard Kendrick. He came to bat only after Torii Hunter executed a brilliant take-out slide on Infante at second, forcing his double-play throw to sail high and force Prince Fielder off the bag.

Infante didn’t get an error; you can’t assume the double play. Still, he beat himself up pretty bad afterwards, looking at the video and saying his throw was headed high before Hunter made impact with him.

“It’s tough,” he said. “I have to practice for the double play.”

Infante has four errors since, but more importantly, he has nine double plays, just four of them. He has three errors and five double plays in September. The low double-play totals are hurting the Tigers as much or more than the errors lately. It really hurt them over the weekend in Cleveland, including at least a couple on Sunday.

“When I go to throw to first base, that’s it, Infante said. “I think that’s it, the throw to first base when it’s a tight play.”

After Hunter flipped Infante, one of the comments from Infante was that he needed to step across the bag to get that ball from Miguel Cabrera and get out of the way of a sliding baserunner. On Monday, it looked like Infante not only stepped right into the path of Alex Rios, but stepped forward, allowing Rios to take him out with a good slide into his front leg.

None of this suggests Infante is the poster child for the Tigers’ defensive woes, even though he has looked like it lately. It doesn’t even suggest Danny Worth should be starting in his play. For every Infante error, there seems to be a acrobatic field and throw. On Monday, the stellar play up the middle followed the error.

47 Comments

Omar is a good player. He is taking a lot of heat in the media so it was nice to see Jason provide some perspective here. Omar is a pretty intense guy who probably put too much on his shoulders when the trade was made. I think he still has worth and if they partner him with a solid mate at short he should give us very good service. If he goes elsewhere, I know he will do well. I like the Venezuelan connection on this team and I think it has the potential to provide a very dependable core of players years to come. Many thanks to Maggs and Carlos for this..
Garcia is going to be an exciting player for us. You can see it. I hope we get a chance to see what he can do against all kinds of pitching.

Oh, I also saw the Hamilton “talk” This is a guy who would hurt our ball club in a myriad of ways. He (despite his numbers) is fading. The speed is going. The attitude is slipping. He is injury prone and expensive. He hits left handed. he would have to play left field. He is not a spring chicken.. And he is not hitting in a hitters park.
I still think this is an area that needs consideration, the park. Redesign the fence in let and left center a tad. I suppose the centre field is somewhat unique and should be kept. AJ handles it well. That area where the left field wall meets the CF wall is over 430 feet and that is a spot where Miggy likes to go. Don’t punish our RHB. 345 down the line and then quickly to 395 is overkill. I know this won’t be done and that we should be happy they moved them several years ago–I just think it would make for a better game.
And if this isn’t done then for Pete’s sake, Dombrowski build your team so it is suited for your ball park.

Marcano Trillo had a better formula to protect himself making DP.He threw below the arm “aiming” at runners head. They took themselves out of the way or received the ball in the middle of the head. I never saw one single runner being hit by him.

That is was I tough, he is pressing himself to show he is not the old Infante.

About the fences, thre was a rumor in the 80′s. Home plate was moved to LF in Tiger Stadium so RHP had the RF fence a little more far than signaled.I dont know if that was true.
Moving the fences would damage Verlander, Scherzer, Smyly.They have a below 1 GB/FB ratio. And Scherzer has been always HR prone. Porcello and Fister wont be affected.
Miguel said in an interview that he is losing around 15 HR a year by playing at CoPa.
They have speed. They are not using it: Jackson, Infante, Berry and Garcia.And I wont bunt ever or steal bases to take away the bat from Miguel. Hit and run with him is another history.That is what I would do.
Someone who hits to the gaps is what they need to add.

Like most of our problems – Omar is not the only reason we are losing, but his mis-plays have been a big factor in a lot of our losses, but the issue with our team is we have too many folks not doing their job and it is adding up – if our other play was so solid that Omar is our only problem it would not be as big of an issue because we would be winning more.

I don’t like the excuse though of pressing – these are major league players, they could not get here without knowing how to play under pressure and he has to get over that. We are not mathematically out of anything, but we have alot of work to do and need to some from the Sox to cool down a bit.

Thankfully I had a fantastic night of golf last night which enabled me to forget this Tigers loss – but now it is all coming back to me. We need to win a lot this week…

Regarding yesterday and Omar it was a hard but legal slide so I understand why his throw might of been off. What I don’t understand is why they pylon at first couldn’t make an attempt to scoop it. He does very little to bail the infielders out. And if your not going to drive is a whole bunch of runs (latley). You’d been damn well make sure you are giving it your all on the field. Your defensive liability has to be worth it and so far its not

So now Infante is the problem du jour? How many of our guys have been the problem of the day this season? Think about it. I’ve never thought much of Drew Sharp’s baseball writing skills and here’s an example of it. Okay how’s this? Go back and look at these missed doubleplays and you’ll see our shortstop assure himself an easy hop and slickly but slowly “whip” the ball to Infante, who gets crushed by the runner.
Baseball is a team game played on an individual level, but it’s still a team game. This team has not gelled and to constantly be blaming it on this guy or that guy is ludicrus.
.
Omar has not been comfortable here, we see that. Whether it’s returning to the scene of negative events in his life, difficulty playing for this manager or in this town, or just taking on too much responsibility, we don’t know. Could just be one of those things that happens then goes away.
He’s a good ballplayer when allowed to be one.

agreed – I am not pinning any one thing on Omar – he is the epitome of our whole team right now – so many folks have caused us so many problems, we are losing as a team for sure – just the topic of the day to point out, among many

and yes, Fielder is as much to blame on that play as Omar, if not more. Omar’s history this year has been not always making the smart play for outs and Prince just is not stopping them – trying to always swipe instead of sometimes just blocking the ball.

On the configuration of Comerica, I’ve witnessed many more homers up the middle lost by our guys than the opposition. I’m sure there’s a number on that somewhere, there always is, but this is what I see from watching the games. We already have supposed gap hitters and most everyone’s power is to center. They let the pitch travel deep in the zone and don’t get out in front to pull the ball.
The bottom line is either configure the park to our team or configure the team to our park. I’d think configuring the park is easier and cheaper. It takes years to create the LA Angels of Detroit.
Austin Jackson? He could play even more shallow and still take away gaps that others can’t.

Agreed. Must reading here. I only disagree with the last line about deserving to go to the playoffs. Whoever wins it deserved it. We are the underdogs now.

The truth hurts.

People we are the Detroit Tigers. We are one. We win as a team. We lose as a team. On the play in question, Rios made a great play, a hardnosed slided. What happened after that?? Well, Omar made two spectacular plays in the field. Oh, we went three up three down four times in a row. No hits after you fall behind will be a loss. Drew Sharp??? Poison Ivy. Stay away. Turn the page. Offense clicks today.

Saw another blurb about Hamilton possibly going to the Tigers. This time CBS posted it. Not favorable about the idea.

On the other hand, if Giancarlo Stanton could be acquired…

Pardon me for saying so, but that is an idiotic rumor.

I am looking forward to the game today! get that taste of yesterday out of my mouth. Any word on what happened to doug? is he hurt?

forget the white sox – the tigers need to focus on playing good baseball, having a good time and not trying to do too much at the plate. 2 out RBIs, late game hitting/pitching and backing eachother up…..do that shit. The CHISOX are due for a slump anyways.

Basically, Fister said what he usually says, which is that he didn’t execute his pitches. He did agree that his breaking ball wasn’t consistent, which I think really hurt him. But he never admitted to being hurt when he was earlier in the year until they had to shelve him.

fair enough. his fastball didn’t seem to lose velocity – if that says anything.

There is no mystery however to how poor a defensive 1B Fielder is, he needs to scoop that, or become a DH. I played 1B in HS, that is a play you HAVE to make, or at least knock down.

And no mystery to how poorly Boesch has hit this year, terrible. Play Berry, at least he can beat out a ground ball.

I’d definitely be playing Avisail (did I spell it right?) everyday til the end of the season. And, how is his first name pronounced? El Tigre, maybe you can help. Is it ah vee see el, Ah va sail?

I think ah vee see al but don’t hold me to that!

She is right. Avi like in Avi-la and then sa like in sa-ck.Then eel

Fonetics is not my strengh

According to Lee Panas we are last in AL in DRS. I think it’s defensive runs saved at -36. If you are going to keep Prince at 1st and Miggy at 3rd, you have to have a crackerjack SS & 2nd baseman and great outfielders. Miggy is like Jhonny defensively: gets to the balls he can and fields them correctly but not alot of range. Miggy was a gold glover at first base compared to Prince.

spot on comment!

and furthermore, this is why we needed to get a good everday 2B guy in the offseason. So these guys could get all these kinks out of the way.

Ah-vee-saw-eel I believe

Maybe we can nickname him Avatar!

I assumed he’d eventually end up as Avi.

His name is Avisail Antonio. But AA is already taken

Tony!

Leyland on playing Boesch: “I play him in this ballpark because he hits pretty good here,” Leyland said of Boesch. “I just picked Boesch because I was kind of hoping he’d run into one. That’s why we played him here a couple other times and he did run into one.”
Running into one. we have heard JL say this about other fellas in the past. They have ended up there too…..in the past. Not exactly a ringing endorsement.
I like Boesch and I had high hopes for him this year. I actually thought he would be 25 to 30 homers in front of the Big Boys.
He needs to fix his swing. I don’t think you can afford to let him do that during another season. I hate to say it but he has more value as trade bait than as an outfielder for the Detroit tigers.

Boesch is on my trade list.

Let’s hope the Hamilton rumour is just that and nothing more. He would bring and cause more problems than he is worth. This would mean there would be no money for a “cracker-jack shortstop”. That is essential for us next year. As I mentioned yesterday, Hamilton also brings an aging, slowing, injury-prone, prima donna to the mix. This is not even mentioning his vulnerability in terms of personal life. He hits the snot out of the ball in Texas. He won’t do that at Comerica, just ask Prince about that. A firm NO on Hamilton.

How about a firm no to the rumor itself? How does anyone think we’d be able to sign him?

Get ready for more a lot of that this winter. After Ilitch spent big on Fielder on the spur of the moment, pretty much any unnamed GM or agent can cite the Tigers as a wild card for any big-name free agent. And until that player signs somewhere, nobody’s going to be able to give a firm no. Heck, I had sources saying the Tigers couldn’t afford Fielder three days before they signed him.

Hey Dan, what about this Eugenio Suarez , who played SS at West Michigan this season?? How far away is he?? He is twenty-one years old. How old was Andrus when Texas brought him up??

Speaking of winter, it has become quite “fallish” today (in the 60′s). The guys might want to wear long sleeves tonight. The thought of the season ending in Sept makes me want to cry.

fall fishing is here!

Rich…Re: Rumour about Hamilton to the Tigers. Idiotic? Maybe. Maybe not But the main source is Olney based upon information gleaned from a GM. The second rumour item is a take on the situation by R.J. White of CBS Sports.

Well, I didn’t think it came from the CIA. :-) The rumors nearly always come from national guys who got it from some highly placed executive of an unknown club. It’s a marginal form of baseball entertainment during the offseason and I pay more attention when the season ends. Everybody knows where MLBTradeRumors is.

Hey..Great to know posters know the difference between the CIA and MLB.

Please don’t take offense. I was just throwing a joke back at you.

The Tigers were mentioned when ARod optioned out of the Yankees. And for sure , after signing Filder they became the new Yankees of the Steimbrener variety.But one expected, after the big trade, that Magic Johnson has overtaken them

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