Lakeland, Fla. – The Tigers continue to add to their depth.
On Tuesday the Tigers signed seven-year veteran corner infielder Casey McGehee to a minor league contract.
“We could use a third baseman, quite frankly,” manager Brad Ausmus said. “Not necessarily at the Major League level, maybe Toledo – we could use one. And he’s got Major League experience, he’s got international experience.”
McGehee, 33, has posted a .259 batting average, .319 on-base and .708 OPS over his career. His best season was 2010 when he hit 23 homers and knocked in 104 runs with the Brewers.
“I am excited to be here,” he said. “Hopefully I can find a way to make the team better and help the team win. That’s the only reason I am here. I am trying to win a job.”
He is coming off one the most personally disappointing seasons of his career. After a huge season in Japan in 2013 (28 homers, 93 RBI, .292 batting average and .891 OPS), he was the National League Comeback Player of the Year with the Marlins in 2014, hitting .287 with a .355 on-base percentage and .712 OPS.
He was traded to his hometown team, the Giants, in 2015, essentially to replace Pablo Sandoval at third base. It couldn’t have gone worse. He hit just .213 in 49 games and was released July 8.
“It was just one of those years,” he said. “Things got off to a weird start. I think I put too much pressure on myself.”
Replacing a World Series hero in Sandoval was only part of his anxiety. McGehee grew up just 45 miles from San Francisco. All his family and friends still live in the area.
“I think I was just trying too hard,” he said. “It wasn’t even (Sandoval). I was playing for my hometown team growing up, in front of all my friends and family and people like that. I just tried to do too much and didn’t let the game come to me.
“I got away from my game and things went sideways on me. I am just glad to have a chance here. Hopefully I can make the team.”
He knows what he’s up against. Miguel Cabrera and Nick Castellanos are the everyday corner infielders and both Mike Aviles and Andrew Romine can fill in at third, while designated hitter Victor Martinez and Jarrod Saltalamacchia can fill in at first.
“Ah, I was fighting for a job long before I was ever a regular,” McGehee said. “It’s back to how it all started, I guess.”
Chris McCosky of The Detroit News comments on the Detroit Tigers' uniforms while the team warms up on Feb. 23.