June 5th, 2013

Wednesday’s lineups: Tigers vs. Rays

Avisail Garcia is making his sixth consecutive starts, the last four in center field. Between this streak of starts and Jim Leyland’s remarks, it appears Garcia has settled in as the regular center fielder until Austin Jackson. And there’s still no word on when Jackson will be back.

UPDATE: Last-minute change for Rays, which didn’t become evident until Sam Fuld stepped to the plate to lead off the game instead of Matt Joyce. Kelly Johnson apparently has been scratched. Matt Joyce moves down from leadoff to third, with Fuld replacing Johnson in left.

I doubled down in Beat the Streak for the first time, going with Torii Hunter’s history off Alex Cobb as well as Miguel Cabrera’s current stretch of hitting. You can look at MLB.com beat writers’ picks here.

Gameday | TV: FS Detroit, MLB.TV | Radio: 97.1 FM, AM 1270, Gameday Audio

TIGERS (numbers off Alex Cobb)

  1. Andy Dirks, lf
  2. Torii Hunter, rf (6-for-9, walk)
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 3b (2-for-4, 2 walks)
  4. Prince Fielder, 1b (1-for-2)
  5. Victor Martinez, dh (1-for-3)
  6. Jhonny Peralta, ss (0-for-3, 2 K’s)
  7. Alex Avila, c (3-for-5, K)
  8. Omar Infante, 2b (0-for-2)
  9. Avisail Garcia, cf

P: Doug Fister

RAYS (numbers off Fister)

  1. Matt Joyce, rf (1-for-9, HR, walk, 2 K’s) Sam Fuld, lf
  2. Ben Zobrist, 2b (5-for-14, K)
  3. Kelly Johnson, lf (1-for-3, K) Matt Joyce, rf
  4. Evan Longoria, 3b (1-for-6, walk, 3 K’s)
  5. James Loney, 1b
  6. Desmond Jennings, cf (1-for-3)
  7. Luke Scott, dh (3-for-8, walk, K)
  8. Jose Lobaton, c
  9. Yunel Escobar, ss (2-for-7, walk, K)

P: Alex Cobb

Do Tigers have to worry about a shortstop?

Here’s the statement Jhonny Peralta’s attorney, Barry Boss, made on his behalf after a Sports Illustrated report in early February said Peralta’s name was found in records from the Biogenesis clinic:

“I have never used performance-enhancing drugs. Period. Anybody who says otherwise is lying.”

Four months later, you wonder if this case is going to come down to that: Anthony Bosch telling investigators something about Peralta and/or other clients, and attorneys questioning the credibility of Bosch and his connections.

Nobody can predict how that goes, which is why it’s way too early to make any declarations on Peralta’s situation or the Tigers’ lack of obvious replacements.

At this point, the reports leave a major mystery surrounding Peralta. Unlike several others linked in reports to Biogenesis, there’s still no mention where Peralta shows up in the records. Nothing mentions any numbers next to Peralta’s name, any code name, any receipts. At this point, we’re left to guess what a mention means.

The original report in SI said Peralta doesn’t appear to be tied directly to PEDs in the records, which would explain why Miami New Times didn’t include his name in its original story. ESPN’s Outside the Lines story Tuesday night didn’t make a specific connection to a document, either.

It could be up to Bosch to try to make a connection, if there is any. It could be up to attorneys to try to make or break that case.

One thing about that process: It would not likely be quick.

Major League Baseball will want to make sure the case was tight before pursuing it, which would seemingly go against the report that suspensions could be announced within a couple weeks.

The MLB Players Association would have its say, potentially with a grievance through arbitration, which would add more time to the process. The arbitration process for Ryan Braun after his reported positive test two offseasons ago took a little over four months.

Take in all the factors, and the idea of the Tigers being without a shortstop in a couple weeks seems a bit premature. Depending on how the process goes, the Tigers could end up doing the same thing they were on track to do all along, looking at their options for a shortstop in the offseason.

That said, it’s a reminder just how thin the Tigers are at short. Utilityman Ramon Santiago has filled in for stretches at shortstop over the last several years, but he’ll turn 34 at the end of August, and he has looked overmatched at the plate. Omar Infante came up as a shortstop through the Tigers system, but that was more than a decade ago, and he hasn’t played a game at short since 2010. Danny Worth has missed just under two months with a bruised heel and is working out in extended Spring Training. Hernan Perez (a second baseman who can play shortstop) and Eugenio Suarez (a shortstop) are budding prospects at Double-A Erie, but even getting them ready for next year might be an aggressive timetable.

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