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A sometimes-irreverent look at Detroit's Boys of Summer, the Tigers, as they try to return to the top of the American League Central.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Lineup angst: Everyone needs a rest now and then

For the ninth time since May 15 (when the Tigers were last at .500, at 18-18) that the team will play a game in hopes of a win putting their record back at even. Here's the lineup:

Austin Jackson, CF
Quintin Berry, RF
Miguel Cabrera, DH
Prince Fielder, 1B
Delmon Young, LF
Ryan Raburn, 2B
Jhonny Peralta, SS
Alex Avila, C
Ramon Santiago, 3B

Starter: Drew Smyly, LHP

Manager Jim Leyland said he was planning to get Miggy "off his feet" at DH sometime before the break. Facing a LHP (which eliminates LH Don Kelly) Friday, the options to replace him at third were switch-hitting Ramon Santiago and right-hander Ryan Raburn. Leyland chose Santiago, a middle infielder who has played in parts of 15 previous games at third (including five last season), but hadn't started there since Aug. 13, 2008.

It's not quite the lineup dilemma that Leyland "tossed and turned" over before Thursday's game, but attempting getting Cabrera and Fielder "off their feet" a time or two is a consideration that the skipper takes seriously. Both have played in each and every one of the team's 83 games to date, and have missed only a combined 40 innings of a possible 733 1/3 defensive innings (12 for Fielder, 18 for Cabrera). 

"Am I going to play them 162? I doubt it. But who knows?" Leyland said recently, asked after if there was a specific trait that allowed both to play nearly every inning of every game. "Yeah, they’re big and strong.

"They can have a day off whenever they want a day off," the skipper said.

But that's just the point — neither of them do.

Both men want to be in the lineup each and every day. They've even turned down attempts by the skipper to give them a rest.

"That’s a treat, a special treat for a manager, when you got your star players that go to the post every day, that’s pretty good. I’ll give them a day off if they need a day off. Or if I really think I see one of them (struggling), I’ll give them a day off. There was one day I talked to Prince about getting him off his feet for a day, and DHing him, and he said ‘No, he’s all right.’" Leyland recounted.

"Yeah, they both like to play. That’s a blessing for a manager. They both like to play. They want to be in there all the time.

"Most guys do. They want to play. That’s what you signed them for. They want to play. It can be grueling, but we’re not going to run anyone into the ground.

"I think I’ll have to watch Berry here, once in a while. When you’ve got a guy who runs like he does, and steals bases, and stuff like that, at some point, you gotta be careful you don’t run him down.

But that’s a little bit different than guys that are big and strong as Cabrera and Prince."

Cabrera has been the team's DH twice previously: June 17th, after a streak of 50 straight games in the field, and April 21, in the second game of a doubleheader. The next day, he switched over to first base late in an 11-inning affair, replacing that day's fill-in first baseman Kelly. That was the only day all season that Fielder did not start at first base. He's finished every game he's started but one — the second game of the season, when Kelly replaced him in the ninth inning of a 10-0 blowout.

As for Berry, he's played in 39 of a possible 41 games since his call-up on May 23, starting all but seven of them. 


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