March 15th, 2014

Whatever the timetable, Tigers preparing for potentially long spell without Iglesias

The Tigers had no medical update Saturday on Jose Iglesias, which seemed somewhat significant after he spent Friday trying out a device for pain management. Now that reports cite peers and ex-teammates saying Iglesias expects to miss a half-season or more, the Tigers aren’t commenting on those reports, either.

“At this time, I do not have anything to discuss on Iglesias’ situation,” Dave Dombrowski wrote in an email. “Will have more in a few days.”

Coincidentally, Iglesias’ agent, Scott Boras, said late Saturday night that Iglesias will visit two specialists in the coming days to determine the best course of treatment.

Whether it’s a half-season (Jon Heyman’s report), most of the season (Jim Bowden’s tweet), or something else, however, the Tigers are preparing for the increasing possibility they’ll be without their gifted young shortstop for a significant amount of time. The fact that all this comes after Iglesias saw another specialist in Florida earlier this week for additional opinion on his injury point to a more significant injury to his shins.

Saturday was the first time manager Brad Ausmus talked about filling in for Iglesias on more on a short-term basis. He had no new medical info to share, but he had thoughts on what they might face.

“Depending on how long he’s going to be out, we may or may not need two shortstops,” Ausmus said.

Roster math suggests the Tigers shouldn’t need two shortstops if Iglesias faces a minimal stint on the disabled list.

When asked whether they’re waiting on medical results or a timetable, Ausmus didn’t give a specific answer.

“We want him to be healthy is the primary goal,” Ausmus said, “but we’re kind of at that point where with every passing day, it’s becoming extremely more difficult for him to get the number of at-bats ready to prepare for a season. In relatively short order, we’ll be past that tipping point, where we’d essentially have to open up the season without Jose.”

Whether that points free-agent shortstop Stephen Drew to Tigers camp remains to be seen. Nothing is believed to be imminent, and it’s unclear just how serious the Tigers’ interest would be. Drew is represented by Boras, who also picked up Iglesias as a client last summer. But the Tigers are about to face the tough decision between long-term and short-term outlooks.

If the Tigers make a serious run at Drew, they’ll do so knowing they’d have to give up a first-round draft pick (23rd overall) for a short-term fix. If they pass, they’re going to have to be confident in their alternatives, either an in-house mix of youngsters and utility infielders, or somebody off a trade market one AL scout said “stinks.”

The Diamondbacks could have an extra shortstop in their battle between Didi Gregorius and Chris Owings, but both are young talents in their early 20s, not veterans, and likely wouldn’t come cheap. Other clubs are likely to have serviceable utility infielders become available as rosters whittle down, but not necessarily deserving of regular playing time.

Drew has served as a shortstop for a World Championship team, having held down the job for Boston last season over Iglesias and Xander Bogaerts. He hit .253 last year with 13 home runs, 67 RBIs and a .777 OPS. He finished strong with an .837 OPS after the All-Star break, but he also hit just .222 with a .687 OPS away from Fenway Park.

The Tigers were believed to have interest in him for at least a brief flirtation last offseason before they recommitted to Jhonny Peralta. They know what they’d be getting. The debate will be what they’d give up.

Saturday: Tigers vs. Astros

Victor Martinez gets his first game behind the plate today, albeit only for a few innings. Brad Ausmus said this morning that Martinez will catch three innings. By batting leadoff, Martinez will be able to squeeze in two at-bats in that time.

“You don’t have to catch nine innings to be ready to catch nine innings,” Ausmus said. “That sounds like a Yogi-ism.”

Steve Lombardozzi, meanwhile, gets his first game action in left field. Ausmus wasn’t planning on doing that this spring, but with Andy Dirks currently limited to couch potato duty following back surgery, Ausmus is now viewing Lombardozzi as an outfield option — maybe not platoon duty, but spot duty and late-game versatility.

Max Scherzer and Lucas Harrell pitch opposite each other for the second time this spring. They played against each other and sometimes on the same team while growing up in Missouri — Harrell in Springfield, Scherzer in the St. Louis area.

TIGERS

  1. Victor Martinez, C
  2. Tyler Collins, CF
  3. Torii Hunter, RF
  4. Miguel Cabrera, 1B
  5. Ian Kinsler, 2B
  6. Austin Jackson, DH
  7. Nick Castellanos, 3B
  8. Danny Worth, SS
  9. Steve Lombardozzi, LF

P: Max Scherzer

ASTROS

  1. Jonathan Villar, DH
  2. Dexter Fowler, CF
  3. Jose Altuve, 2B
  4. Marc Knauss, 1B
  5. Jesus Guzman, 3B
  6. Robbie Grossman, LF
  7. Carlos Corporan, C
  8. L.J. Hoes, RF
  9. Carlos Correa, SS

P: Lucas Harrell

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 24,684 other followers