New York — It there a third base controversy in Detroit?
Hard to say. One thing for certain, though, is that Andrew Romine, who has started the last two games there in place of a scuffling Nick Castellanos, is going to be in the starting lineup again Monday in Cleveland.
"Don't read too much into it," manager Brad Ausmus said. "Romine is swinging the bat well. He earned himself another day."
But Ausmus added, with a sly grin, "There is no guarantee it will be at third base. He can play anywhere."
The Tigers face right-hander Trevor Bauer at Progressive Field. Castellanos is 3-for-13 against him.
When pressed about how long Romine might stay in the lineup, Ausmus said, "If Romine keeps playing well – it's kind of like what J.D. (Martinez) did last year."
Martinez was called up to the Tigers in late April last season, quickly went from being just a power bat off the bench to the everyday left fielder.
"I am not saying Romine is going to hit the ball like J.D.," Ausmus said. "But if he keeps playing well, he will earn playing time."
Ausmus' decision to start Romine against Masahiro Tanaka Sunday was prescient.
"I just like the way Romine is swinging it right now," he said before the game, even though Romine had been hitless in his last 12 at-bats.
"I have felt pretty good (at the plate)," Romine said. "I've put the bat on the ball and been grinding out at-bats. Obviously the coaches see different things than players and fans do. He's the one who makes the lineup and I guess made a good choice today."
Romine had a walk and a single batting left-handed against Tanaka, then he hit his first homer of the season batting right-handed off lefty Jose De Paula.
But Romine isn't getting too far ahead of himself in terms of his role.
"I'm just here to do my part at my position," he said. "I am trying to help the team win, no matter what position they put me in."
As for the possibility of taking over the everyday responsibilities at third?
"That's not the first thing I'm thinking about," he said. "The first thing I am thinking about, the first thing we all are thinking about, is winning games. That's why we are here. What happens to me comes second."
Castellanos is 9 for 51 this month (.176) and has struggled all season.
Machado at third
There was a little stirring around here when the Toledo Mud Hens announced their lineups for Sunday. Dixon Machado, the top shortstop prospect in the system, was starting at third base and Jefry Marte, a third baseman, was at short.
With the way Castellanos has struggled, it looked like a possible precursor to a roster move.
Al Avila, the assistant general manager, said that wasn't the case.
"We've been working him out at third," Avila said. "The whole time we've had him, he's only played shortstop. Earlier we worked him out at second base and now at third."
Avila took it further.
"He's the one guy who, if we need some help here — an injury factor or if anything happened — he's the one guy (in the system) who could come up and contribute," he said. "But he's only played shortstop. That's why we are moving him around a little bit."
The problem is, the Tigers right now don't really have another shortstop to plug in at Toledo. It's tough to move him from shortstop.
Machado spoke after the game to the Toledo Blade.
"They told me I'm going to keep playing shortstop, but if something happens I will be able to play third," he said.
Said manager Larry Parrish: "We're giving him a little bit of work at third base. He took some grounders there in Syracuse Tuesday, and Wednesday he took some grounders that led to him starting double plays from third base."
Around the hops
Romine, with his home run to left field, leads all Romine family members in home runs at Yankee Stadium. His brother Austin is in the Yankees minor league system and his father Kevin played in the big leagues. "Do they even have any homers here?" Andrew asked. Um, no. He broke the scoreless tie.
…J.D. Martinez got greedy. He admits it. Having already smashed three home runs Sunday, he wanted a fourth badly when he batted in the eighth. "Yeah, I got a little anxious," he said. "I was feeling good. I felt like I could cover a ball that was in or out or down. I don't think he threw me one strike." Martinez flew out to right.
…Martinez is the second player to have a three-homer game at the new Yankee Stadium. Curtis Granderson had one in 2012, when he played for the Yankees. He is the first visiting player to hit three in a game in the Bronx since Geronimo Berroa did it in 1996. And he is the second Tiger to hit three in Yankee Stadium (Pat Mullin was the other in 1949).