February 14, 2014 at 7:10 pm

Tigers' Victor Martinez back in catching gear

Lakeland, Fla. -- Their unusual first road trip of the regular season -- to Los Angeles and San Diego -- is one for which the Tigers already are considering adjustments.

It’s the reason Victor Martinez, for instance, put on catching equipment the day he reported to spring training.

It’s also the reason Miguel Cabrera might have to return to third base for a game or two soon after the season begins.

To keep Martinez in the lineup against the Dodgers and Padres, he’ll have to catch or play first base. And if Martinez plays first, Cabrera will have to play third.

But it’s a move to which he’s already agreed.

“It’s been talked about,” said manager Brad Ausmus, “but Miggy said, ‘Whatever you need. I still have two gloves.’

“So if you see Miggy play third for a game at the end of March, it might be that we’re setting up options for the National League games where we want to keep our big bats in the lineup.”

As for Martinez …

It won’t be surprising to see him behind the plate again.

"I called Victor in early January and asked him about catching," Ausmus said. "He was thrilled about it.

"We play 10 games in National League parks this year (including the first trip) and we can't have Victor not play, so this gives us another option.”

Not surprising him with the plans was important, though.

"I wouldn't want to leave it to the first week of the season and ask Victor to put on his catching gear,” Ausmus said. “I was hoping he'd be open to the idea."

And, of course, he was.

"Not only open," said Ausmus, "but excited about it."

Asked if it will be strange to be back home in San Diego during the Tigers’ first trip of the season, Ausmus said, “It’ll be nice, but not strange. I know the area.”

Patrick Leyland's bad break

Former Tigers manager Jim Leyland was in Florida (Siesta Key) for much of the winter.

But he had to fly back to Pittsburgh last week because his son Patrick, still a catcher in the Tigers’ organization, slipped on the ice and broke an ankle.

It’s bad luck, to be sure, for Patrick Leyland, who had recovered nicely from last year’s shoulder surgery.

Tigers manager Brad Ausmus, center, chats with catcher Alex Avila, left and designated hitter Victor Martinez, who is expected to play catcher at some point this season, on Friday in Lakeland, Fla. / Elizabeth Conley / Detroit News
See Also