Kansas City, Mo. — Manager Brad Ausmus talked during spring training about the benefits having two super utility players, one who hits right-handed pitching and another who hits lefties. He talked about how much flexibility it could give him as he maneuvers through a ballgame.
Well, several off-days early in the season and one rainout later, trying to find playing time for both Andrew Romine and Mike Aviles has become problematic for the skipper.
“It’s almost too flexible,” Ausmus said. “We have such a set lineup. As long as everybody is healthy, especially now with the off-days and rainout, guys are pretty well rested. It’s tough to find these guys spots to play.
“Especially when at some positions the regulars are swinging the bat well. It makes you pause.”
Case in point: Before Tuesday, Aviles hadn’t started and had just one at-bat in 10 days. But third baseman Nick Castellanos (hitting .450 on the road trip and .357 overall) and second baseman Ian Kinsler (.304 on the trip, .340 on the season) have been hot.
“The way those guys are swinging the bat, it’s hard to (take them out of the lineup), but you have to do it,” Ausmus said.
Aviles got the start at third base on Tuesday.
“I can’t have Mike Aviles sit on the bench for two weeks and ask him to pinch hit in a game to win it,” Ausmus said. “He’s got to get at-bats.”
Once the Tigers get into the grind of the season, where days off are few and far between, Ausmus said he will again welcome the added depth and flexibility Romine and Aviles provide.
“As is the case with all teams, though you never hope it’s serious, guys are going to get bumps and bruises and will need to miss time,” Ausmus said. “Then having guys like Mike and Romine becomes really important.”
For once, Cameron Maybin dodged a bullet.
He got hit by a pitch on the left wrist — again. He has been working through his injury rehab assignment at Triple-A Toledo, the injury being a fractured left wrist, when he was struck in the same area Sunday in Louisville.
But Ausmus said Tuesday that Maybin incurred no further damage.
“The X-ray was clean and the CT scan was clean,” Ausmus said. “He won’t play (Tuesday) but hopefully the soreness is out in the next day or two and he’ll start playing again.”
In all, it looks to be a week-long setback.
“It wasn’t really in the same spot,” Ausmus said. “The CT showed the other fracture was healing well. It didn’t show any more damage from this last hit.”
It helped, too, that Maybin was wearing a protective guard on the wrist.
Around the horn
…The Tigers Tuesday signed 36-year-old journeyman catcher Humberto Quintero to a minor-league contract and assigned him to Toledo. Quintero has played parts of 12 seasons, including seven years in Houston where he served as a backup to Ausmus. He essentially replaces Bobby Wilson, who the Tigers signed from Toledo to fill in while James McCann recovers from an ankle sprain.
…McCann is no longer wearing the protective boot and appears to be ahead of the four-week timetable set for his return.