Tigers’ CF strategy ‘could go in any direction’

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News
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Anthony Gose, CF, age 25, L-L, 6-1, 190: There were ups and downs, as expected, but Gose steadily improved and matured as a player through his first full season. He proved what the Tigers suspected, he can be a productive everyday center fielder in the big leagues. He still needs to make more contact at the plate – which is why he’s adding the bunt to his offensive arsenal – and utilize his speed. But he produced above expectations.

Lakeland, Fla. -- It’s clear that Cameron Maybin and Anthony Gose see themselves as everyday center fielders. Neither, as was conveyed during TigerFest last month, wants much to do with a platoon.

That battle won’t begin until position players report next week, and manager Brad Ausmus isn’t tipping his hand.

“We’ll let it play out,” he said. “I don’t think it’s going to be a strict platoon situation (Gose bats left-handed, Maybin right-handed). At this point, it could go in any direction. It could be a platoon, a partial platoon, I could go with the hot hand.

“There are a number of factors, among them the health of all three outfield positions.”

Cameron Maybin

Outfield depth is not a problem for the Tigers. They will have nine outfielders in camp with big league experience. Justin Upton, J.D. Martinez, Gose, Maybin and Mike Aviles are expected to make the club. Tyler Collins, Steven Moya, plus non-roster invitees Nate Schierholtz and John Mayberry Jr., will also be in camp.

Of Moya, who had a productive season in winter ball, Ausmus said his day was coming.

“He’s still a prospect,” he said. “Within the next year or so, he’s probably going to get his opportunity to become a big leaguer – within the next year or year and a half.”

Keen on Greene

Although Daniel Norris, based on his strong finish last season, seems to be the frontrunner for the fifth spot in the Tigers’ starting rotation, Ausmus made it clear nothing was etched in stone.

“Nobody is locked into that last spot,” he said.

Ausmus said Matt Boyd, Buck Farmer, Shane Greene and possibly Michael Fulmer were in the hunt. He said he especially wants to take a long look at Greene, who started last season as the team’s fifth starter.

Future Tiger starter Fulmer fights for bullpen role

“Greene is a guy two years ago, before we got him, that we were extremely excited about,” Ausmus said. “He got off to a great start, then scuffled and had the injury. In my mind, I don’t want Shane Greene to become the forgotten man.

“He had an off-year, but the stuff we saw a couple of years ago, that’s still in him.”

Notable

Ausmus said former pitching coach Jeff Jones will be in Lakeland later this week and spend some time helping new pitching coach Rich Dubee with the transition.

Twitter @cmccosky

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