Tigers' Krizan has big bat but needs to be handy with glove

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News

Viera, Fla. — The Tigers like how Jason Krizan swings the bat; especially that he swings it left handed.

The problem is, he is a corner outfielder. Not much opportunity for advancement to the major leagues for a corner outfielder in the Tigers organization, just ask Steven Moya.

So, the Tigers have had Krizan working with Omar Vizquel and Alan Trammell on playing second base, third base and first base.

"He's a guy whose swing and his bat look like could play at the major league level soon," manager Brad Ausmus said. "Being a corner outfielder can be a tough spot to get into the lineup.

"So if he's got the ability to play multiple positions, be a super-utility guy, we might, if his bat does play at that level, get him into four, five, six games a week at different positions."

Krizan, the Tigers ninth round pick in 2011, hit .293 (.364 on-base) at Double-A Erie last year, with seven homers and 56 RBIs. He has four hits this spring, including a triple and home run, with six RBIs.

"I grew up an infielder," Krizan said. "I played it until I was a junior or senior in high school. When I got to college and played my freshman year at first base and then I didn't play (infield) again until pro ball.

"It's coming back. I wouldn't say it's like riding a bike. Obviously it's faster up here."

Krizan has no idea how far the Tigers will go with this experiment. He doesn't know if he will play multiple positions wherever he lands this season — back to Erie or to Triple-A Toledo.

"I haven't talked to anybody about that," he said. "They just told me to take ground balls and see how it goes."

Krizan is just happy the coaches think he may have a major league bat and have a plan for him.

"Oh yeah, that's good to know," he said. "You always think you can play at this level but it's good to have some reassurance. It gives you confidence."

No telling how many at-bats Krizan might have had by now if he made the switch to infield before camp. Minor league second baseman Javier Betancourt was expected to play in his seventh spring game Thursday. He has more at-bats (12) than starting catcher Alex Avila (11).

Chris McCosky on Twitter @cmccosky