On Friday afternoon, Jason Beck confirmed what we had speculated when Victor Martinez reported to Spring Training with the catchers: Brad Ausmus is planning on using Martinez behind the plate when the team travels to National League parks.
Here’s Beck quoting the Tigers’ new skipper:
We play 10 games in National League parks and the first road trip of the season is L.A. and San Diego. We can’t not have Victor play for five straight games… So when we get to LA and San Diego and we face a tough left-handed pitcher or maybe Alex Avila needs a day or something, whatever the case may be, we can stick Victor behind the plate possibly.
Ausmus didn’t say this would necessarily happen, but h did indicate that he wanted to have the option of using Victor as a catcher on occasion. He also mentioned the option of using Martinez at first base in National League stadiums.
“It’s been talked about,” Ausmus said. “Again, there will be some things, we have to see how they play out, but it’s been discussed. I actually even mentioned it to Miggy. You know, Miggy is a team guy and he told me, ‘Listen, I still have two gloves.
It sounds like Ausmus is planning to keep V-Mart’s bat in the lineup versus both lefties and righties. Versus lefties he could spell Avila, who struggles against southpaws, and against righties he could play first and Cabrera could slide back to third to give rookie Nick Castellanos a day off.
Miguel Cabrera told the team back in November — shortly after the Prince Fielder trade — that he wanted to play first base, but that apparently doesn’t mean that he’s closed to the idea of playing back at the hot corner from time to time. Cabrera has always seemed to enjoy playing third — and he’s shown nothing of an ego as a “me first” guy — so it’s not surprising that he would be willing to move himself around the diamond and back again if it meant helping the team.
The Tigers, of course, need to prepare themselves for regular season road trips against National League teams, but hopefully there will also be road World Series games to worry about.