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Nick Castellanos is candidate to hit second for Tigers

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News
Tigers' Nick Castellanos watches a hit while he takes batting practice.

Lakeland, Fla. – For a guy who is tired of the topic, manager Brad Ausmus had plenty to say about it Thursday morning.

Who’s going to hit second in the Detroit Tigers’ batting order?

The question isn’t likely to be answered until later this spring, but a day after he ruled out Justin Upton as a candidate, Ausmus threw Nick Castellanos into the mix.

“Nick is a possibility, and quite frankly Nick wants to hit there,” Ausmus said. “Nick and I talked about it at TigerFest. I am glad he wants to hit second. Ideally he would get on base more. But if he hits second he can’t go up there trying to walk.

“He can’t change the style of hitter he is. He just has to hit. He has to be Nick Castellanos. Maybe tighten up on the balls you are swinging at and don’t leave the (strike) zone so much. But you don’t try to walk. Teams tried to do that early in the Moneyball era. You can’t try to walk.”

Castellanos ripped a ground-rule double to the gap in left-center field in his only at-bat in the Tigers’ 8-0 scrimmage win over Florida Southern Thursday.

Ausmus said in a perfect world, his No. 2 hitter would get on base often and could run. The Tigers, though, are not perfect in that regard.

“We don’t have a prototypical No. 2 hitter,” he said.

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Ausmus is well aware that statistics show two-hole hitters get a high percentage of RBI chances, and that some teams, like the Angels (Mike Trout) and Cubs (Kris Bryant) have put their best hitter in the two-hole.

But he has never considered hitting Miguel Cabrera second.

“I know the theories behind hitting your best guy second,” Ausmus said. “But I don’t know if that applies if your best hitter is not really a runner.”

He also pointed out that the Angels hit Albert Pujols third and the Cubs hit Anthony Rizzo third – traditional No. 3 hitters.

“For 100 years, the best hitter has hit third – until recently when just a handful of teams put him second,” Ausmus said. “So all the numbers that say the two-hole gets more RBI opportunities are based on lineups with the best hitter hitting third. So what came first, the chicken or the egg?”

Twitter @cmccosky

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