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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.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Baker to make Tigers debut Wednesday vs. Sabathia

The Tigers acquired Jeff Baker as fortification for their bench, and to hit against left-handed pitching.

With the Tigers facing New York Yankees ace CC Sabathia on Wednesday, it only made sense that Baker would be in the lineup come game time.

Manager Jim Leyland agreed, saying as much after Tuesday's game.

When Wednesday's lineup came out, the 31-year-old Baker was in left field, hitting sixth.

The lineup:
Austin Jackson, CF
Omar Infante, 2B
Miguel Cabrera 3B
Prince Fielder, 1B
Delmon Young, DH
Jeff Baker, LF
Brennan Boesch, RF
Gerald Laird, C
Ramon Santiago, SS

It's the logical solution for the dilemma of divvying up playing time among what is now a little bit of a crowded position. And it's something that Leyland's already addressed with those involved.

"I met with the outfielders the other day and I told them, 'I can play four of the six every day, but I can't play all of you every day.' I explained it to them so everybody knows their situation and everybody knows that they might not be in the lineup every day, with the exception — for the most part — of Jackson," the skipper said. "Everybody knows pretty much what they're going to be doing and you just ask everybody to be on board with it and be patient with it, because I'm happy with all the outfielders. But I can only play three in the outfield and one DH. That's four. We've got six. It's kind of fun and it keeps people fresh."

Quintin Berry, who has already been slotting in mostly as a defensive replacement since the return of fellow left-handed hitter Andy Dirks, will get a chance on Thursday. There's a possibility both might play against a right-handed starter, along with Jackson and either Boesch or Young as DH.

Boesch hits left-handers as well as most right-handed hitters, so the logical assumption would be he'd stay in against lefties, along with Jackson and Baker, with Young as the DH.

It will be a mix-and-match game for Leyland, and there may not be any set answer.

"We've got a bunch of good guys and I think they're all willing to make a little sacrifice so that everybody gets to play. You try to keep everybody fresh and you pick your spots," the manager said. "We're just going to try to keep everybody fresh and keep everybody as happy as you can. Not everybody's going to be happy every day. I found out a long time ago, when you have a dilemma — which happens to be a good dilemma — you meet it head-on. You don't try to camouflage it or run from it. You talk to the players and tell them exactly how it's going to be. Then they can be mad, but at least they know you're honest."

Santiago is in Wednesday's lineup, because Jhonny Peralta is just 2-for-20 against former Cleveland teammate Sabathia. One of those two hits, however, was a key RBI double in the Tigers' 5-4 win in Game 3 of the American League Division Series. Santiago is 10-for-33 career, with two doubles and a homer off Sabathia.


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