Tigers have no plans to turn Machado into utility player
Arlington, Texas — As of now, it appears Dixon Machado will come to spring training competing to make the Tigers' opening day roster as a shortstop.
Manager Brad Ausmus said before the game Monday there have been no plans to get him reps at second base or make him a utility player.
"Just a shortstop," he said. "I don't know that I'd put Machado in the Andrew Romine category. He only played third base a couple of games in Toledo. I don't know that I'd throw him into a utility role.
"I am not saying that down the road that couldn't be an option. I would just say right now, that's not the case."
That puts Machado in a situation where he would have to beat out incumbent starting shortstop Jose Iglesias in order to make the 25-man roster next season.
Iglesias, out since Sept. 3 with a non-displaced fracture on his right middle finger, traveled with the team and could be available to pinch-run. He hasn't hit at all and probably won't for the rest of the season.
"We are certainly running out of time," Ausmus said. "But his job is to get ready to play, whether there's a week left or six months left."
Ausmus expects to continue to use Neftali Feliz as the closer.
"I like him closing now based on our personnel," he said. "The other option, Alex Wilson, is running on fumes."
Wilson has thrown 70 innings this season and won't pitch on back-to-back days the rest of the way. Ausmus also intimated that, going forward, Wilson may be better suited to be a set-up man more so than closer.
The reason: he's pitches to contact more than getting strikeouts. He faced 273 batters this season and struck out 38.
"There have been closers who pitch to contract," Ausmus said. "But generally speaking, you want to get out of jams without runners advancing and strikeouts are the best way to do that."
Around the horn
Ausmus was asked if he thought Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre would be considered for the Hall of Fame when he's done playing. "He's knocking on the that door," he said. "When it's all said and done, it will be a no-brainer. He plays both sides of the ball. He's an excellent defender. If he plays a few more years, I'd be shocked if he didn't make it."
… Ian Kinsler was given the night off Monday. "No issues," Ausmus said. "He'll be in the lineup tomorrow."
… Here is the Tigers rotation for the final weekend of the season in Chicago — Alfredo Simon Friday, Justin Verlander Saturday and Daniel Norris Sunday. Randy Wolf will be available out of the bullpen, but Matt Boyd will not pitch again after his start on Wednesday.
… Ausmus said he was happy and relieved that, along with himself, his coaching staff will return for next season. Unlike Ausmus, who was signed to a three-year contract initially, his assistants are working the last of a two-year deal. They will have to negotiate their deals for 2016 with general manager Al Avila.
Tigers at Rangers
First pitch: 8:05 Tuesday, Globe Life Park, Arlington, Texas
TV/radio: FSD/97.1, 1270.
LHP Cole Hamels (11-8, 3.56), Rangers: The Rangers have won the last eight times Hamels has taken the mound. He is 5-0 with a 2.78 ERA in that span. Opponents are hitting .245 against him and he's allowed two home runs in 55 innings with the Rangers.
LHP Daniel Norris (2-2, 3.88), Tigers: This is his third start after coming off the DL with an oblique strain. His pitch count will be limited to 80 pitches. He's been light-out in his first two starts — allowing just one hit (a home run by the Twins' Eddie Rosario), in 8⅔ innings. He's struck out eight and walked one.