Raburn the next man in at second base
Coming out of spring training, he was the starting left fielder, but through his own struggles and the hot start by Brennan Boesch, he was slowly phased into a rotation.
Starting Saturday, he’ll be the new primary second baseman, after neither Will Rhymes nor Scott Sizemore could lock down the job.
“I think you can safely say he’ll be our second baseman,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland told reporters after Friday’s 6-3 loss to the Red Sox. “To me, Raburn’s season starts tomorrow. Forget everything that’s happened to this point.”
That may be hard to do, unless the position change revitalizes Raburn’s bat.
The one-time utility man left April with a .253 batting average, but he’s hit just .100 so far in May, with just one extra-base hit. At one point, he was neck-and-neck with teammate Austin Jackson for the MLB lead in strikeouts.
Still, the pop in his bat is an upgrade over what the Tigers had been putting out there for most of the season.
Between them, Rhymes — who was demoted to Triple-A Toledo at the start of the month — and Sizemore — who was traded Friday for pitching help, in the form of lefty reliever David Purcey — hit just .221 with two doubles and six RBI in 35 starts at second.
Raburn and the other player in the mix, Ramon Santiago, combined to hit .313 with two doubles, two homers and seven RBI in just 13 starts at second.
Friday’s trade wasn’t the only move the Tigers made, optioning struggling reliever Ryan Perry to Toledo to clear room on the active roster for Andy Oliver, who will make a spot start Saturday, in the injured Phil Coke’s turn in the rotation.
In his last nine appearances, Perry allowed 13 earned runs in just seven innings pitched, as his ERA ballooned from a reasonable 3.00 to 14.04.
Leyland said the move was as much as anything to allow Perry — the Tigers’ first-round draft pick in 2008 — to “get away from it up here,” and work on mechanics. Thursday, Leyland said his “heart aches” for Perry because of his profound troubles.
The team will need to make an additional move to clear room on the roster for Purcey, when he arrives Saturday.