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Tigers' Cabrera gets OK to play first base today

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News
Jose Iglesias and Miguel Cabrera talk on the field before Tuesday night's game against the Yankees.

Lakeland, Fla. – Some early morning news bits from Tigertown:

Miguel Cabrera was scheduled to get his swings on the back fields Wednesday against minor league pitching while Victor Martinez got his as the designated hitter against the Marlins at Marchant Stadium.

Cabrera had a better idea.

"After the game (Tuesday night) Miggy said something to (trainer) Kevin Rand," manager Brad Ausmus said. "He said he felt really good and felt like he could play first base. Kevin mentioned it to me and we told him if he felt good this morning, we would let him play four innings at first."

Cabrera was in the clubhouse early morning, clearly ready to go. Thus, Cabrera and Martinez were in the lineup together.

"It's a good sign but it's like we said all along, we have to protect them from themselves," Ausmus said. "It looks like he was moving well. He was hopping around. He slid (in the game Tuesday). But I am not sure what he will do (Thursday). We will have to see what happens."

Martinez is on the same basic track as Cabrera in terms of being ready for Opening Day. He was scheduled to take his first slides of the spring before the game.

Both should get 20-plus at-bats before the end of spring.

"I don't know if it's the best-case (scenario) but it's not a bad-case," Ausmus said.

Getting on and around

Ausmus said he had a good idea of how the top of his batting order would look against both right- and left-handed pitching, but he wasn't ready to make any announcements.

"The more I thought about it, you need people hitting in front of the heart of our lineup who can score," he said. "There are two parts to that. They have to be on base to score and they have to be able to run to score. That's where the conundrum is."

That would seem to preclude Alex Avila from hitting second.

Lately, Ausmus has been batting center fielder Anthony Gose leadoff and second baseman Ian Kinsler second against right-handed pitchers. Kinsler and shortstop Jose Iglesias have been hitting one-two against left-handers.

"I am leaning one way more than another, but I am not going to talk about the lineup right now," he said.

'Not concerned'

Iglesias came into the game Wednesday with two hits in 30 at-bats.

"The best way to describe my assessment," Ausmus said, "is that I am not concerned about it."

Iglesias has struck out only twice in 30 at-bats, which is encouraging to Ausmus.

"When you have struck out only twice in 30 at-bats, there is some back luck involved," he said. "If you are putting the ball in play that much and not getting hits, bad luck is involved. He is not a .100 hitter."

Ausmus is sending Iglesias to the back fields on Friday to get extra swings in the minor league games.

Extreme outings

Here was Ausmus' take on lefty Kyle Ryan, who endured a second straight rough outing Tuesday night: "He's either been extremely good or extremely bad. But overall I still think he's got good stuff. He especially has the ability to get left-handed hitters out. I still like him as a guy who can get left-handers out."

A couple of weeks ago Ryan was being stretched out as a potential long reliever.