LAKELAND, FLA. — Since the Houston Astros moved to the American League, inter-league games aren’t just a couple of weeks out of the year as they used to be.
The Tigers’ first trip of the season takes them to Los Angeles to play the Dodgers for two games and then to San Diego to play the Padres for three.
Tigers manager Brad Ausmus was thinking ahead when he saw the schedule and called designated hitter Victor Martinez early in January to talk to him about the possibility of catching and to see if he wanted to come to Lakeland when the pitchers and catchers reported.
"He was thrilled about it," Ausmus said. "He was excited. We can’t not have Victor play for five straight games. This gives us another option."
"It feels great," Martinez said. "I’m just ready for whatever is out there for me. At the end I just want to win and whatever I can do to help this team win, I’m going to be more than happy to do it. Just do my best."
Ausmus said there was also a chance that Miguel Cabrera could play a game or two at third base and Martinez could play first base during those games in National League parks.
"I actually even mentioned it to Miggy," Ausmus said. "Miggy is a team guy and he told me, ‘Listen, I still have two gloves. Whatever you need.’ So at the end of March, if you see Miggy play third for a game, you don’t have to immediately say that (Nick) Castellanos is in trouble or (Steve) Lombardozzi’s in trouble.
"It might be that we’re setting up to have options for these National League games where we want to keep our big bats in the lineup."