Although the Tigers lost the series finale to the Orioles on Sunday there was a silver lining. The Tigers clean-up hitter finally started to hit the ball.
Victor Martinez went 2 for 4 on Sunday and he did so while playing first base. But could that lead to more time in the field for V-Mart?
Now that the Detroit Tigers are swinging out to the west coast to play the Dodgers and Padres, expect Martinez to spend even more time at first base.
V-Mart is key to protecting Miguel Cabrera in the line-up and it is imperative he play to keep Cabrera from getting the “Barry Bonds Treatment”. Without the DH position available playing first base is the only way to keep his bat in the line-up. That means Miguel Cabrera will likely play third base while in NL cities while Castellanos moves to the outfield.
Nick Castellanos is no stranger to the outfield. He was learning the position while preparing for his break into the majors. Of course that was before the Prince Fielder trade causing Cabrera’s shift back to first allowing Castellanos to assume his old position. With Castellanos in left, Manager Brad Ausmus has more options available to him off the bench including using Rajai Davis as a pinch runner late in the game.
The Tigers might have one of the more versatile line-ups in years when playing by National league rules. Many of the Tigers key hitters can play multiple positions on the field. Cabrera can play either corner while Martinez has had success playing both 1B and catcher. Castellanos has a couple years of experience playing the outfield while in Toledo. Even Ian Kinsler has played elsewhere on the diamond having spent some time at the hot corner while in Texas.
All this versatility means that Brad Ausmus can shuffle his defensive alignment while playing the NL, allowing him to keep the Tigers big bats in the line-up. That was not possible last year when they had nowhere to put Victor Martinez when playing by NL rules thus leaving a key part of the line-up on the bench.
So for what its worth, here is my projected line-up for the Tigers when they face the Dodgers.
- Ian Kinsler – 2B
- Torii Hunter – RF
- Miguel Cabrera – 3B
- Victor Martinez – 1B
- Austin Jackson – CF
- Alex Avila – C
- Nick Castellanos – LF
- Alex Gonzalez/Andrew Romine – SS