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Tigers' utility infielders take turn behind plate

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News

Lakeland, Fla. — Tigers manager Brad Ausmus interrupted his own morning press session Wednesday to drop this bit of news:

"I got something for you," he said. "Andrew Romine and Hernan Perez are going to do a little catching work so we have an emergency catcher."

And so the process of replacing super-utility sub Don Kelly continues.

Romine and Perez, middle infielders by trade, have already played five positions this spring — shortstop, second, third, first and left field. Neither has caught in a Major League game.

"Romine said he caught once," Ausmus said. "Perez said that before he signed he caught."

Romine, whose brother Austin is a catcher in the Yankees system, and Perez both caught bullpen sessions Wednesday — Romine caught Josh Zeid and Perez caught Tim Melville.

"You are just hoping it's somebody who can catch the ball," Ausmus said. "It would be a situation where your back was against the wall and you just needed to get through the game. If need be, you could call someone up for the next game.

"So you just want someone who can catch the ball and have enough of an arm to throw a runner out so they don't run wild on you."

Training Perez and Romine for emergency catcher duty spells the end of Victor Martinez's days as a catcher — at least for this season.

"I don't think it would be smart with his knee issues to catch Victor anymore," Ausmus said.

Ausmus said there is a chance Martinez would play some first base this season, though, once he is fully recovered from meniscus surgery.

Chris McCosky on Twitter @cmccosky