Tigers bloggers all over the land probably have a month’s worth of updates planned about the second base competition. From updates on the spring of Scott Sizemore and his battle to fulfill the promise that allowed Placido Polanco to leave town, to the feel-good story that is Will Rhymes and his attempt to stick as a major leaguer, storylines would be aplenty.
Carlos Guillen is threatening to make all of those posts irrelevant.
Lynn Henning gives us a welcome update from lakeland today about the man without a position, and with a hefty paycheck. Guillen, it’s well-known, is recovering from microfracture surgery on his knee after a late-season collision with Brett Gardner at second base last year. Even the optimists among us had Guillen pegged for a return to full workouts by the middle of March, and very likely starting the season on the disabled list.
It’s still far too early to alter expectations, but so far, so good for Guillen in camp.
"“Yeah, I’ve been feeling good, without pain, fielding ground balls and swinging the bat,” Guillen said after Sunday’s session. “Step by step, but the good thing is, I feel no pain.”"
Tigers manager Jim Leyland, who has been trumpeting Guillen’s importance all winter long, is perhaps more excited than anyone. “I’m pinching myself. I don’t want to get crazy, but he has really looked good.”
If Guillen experiences no setbacks, could it be that he could be ready for Opening Day after all? Offensively speaking, the Tigers would love to slot Guillen’s switch-hitting bat into the six hole, behind Victor Martinez. While not great defensively, Guillen will handle balls he can reach, but the lack of range he possesses, coupled with the same problem from shortstop Jhonny Peralta, will make for a few more base hits on balls up the middle.
Now, we are still a long ways away from the start of the season, and Guillen’s history doesn’t lend itself to optimism that he’ll avoid a setback or even a another injury between then and now. That being said, if Guillen can give the Tigers even 130 games, I like their chances a lot better than if he cannot.