Tigers take it easy with mending Cespedes

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News

Jupiter, Fla. — On a different day, with a healthier Yoenis Cespedes, the Tigers would have at least tied the game Monday against the Cardinals.

"I would much rather have Cespedes healthy, even if it costs us a spring training game," manager Brad Ausmus said after the 1-0 spring loss to the Cardinals.

And only a fool would argue the point.

Cespedes, who missed time earlier this spring with back stiffness, hadn't played since last Thursday because of a quad strain. He was the designated hitter Monday and his bat looked no worse for wear.

He was the only Tigers hitter to make solid contact off Cardinals starter John Lackey, driving a ball to the wall in right center field his first time up. Jason Heyward tracked it down.

In his second at-bat, off Marcus Hatley, he sent one to the wall in left center. He cruised into second, almost trotting. He would have easily scored on a two-out single by Daniel Fields, had he not already been forewarned about going easy on his leg.

"Before he batted I told him to go easy," Ausmus said. "On a ground ball, don't try to beat it out; a double, just make sure you can get there easy or stay at first. When he got to second on the double I walked down the dugout and yelled to Dave (Clark, third-base coach), 'Do not send him unless he can score easy.'

"We were not going to take any chances."

Cespedes is scheduled to start in left field Tuesday. Ausmus said if the leg was tight, he could DH.