CLEARWATER, Fla. — The double-play combination that the Tigers hoped for last season has finally arrived.
Shortstop Jose Iglesias and second baseman Ian Kinsler played together for the first time since the Florida Southern game in Tuesday’s 6-0 win over the Philadelphia Phillies in Clearwater.
Before the game, Tigers manager Brad Ausmus was asked how good the double play combo could be.
"Right there with (Alan) Trammell and (Lou) Whitaker," Ausmus joked. "It could be really good defensively. Kins was outstanding last year at second and although I haven’t seen Iglesias, reports are and the video I’ve seen, he’s one of the best in the game right now. Potential’s there to be an outstanding double play combination and strong defense up the middle for us."
The duo’s Grapefruit League debut had to wait after Iglesias hurt his right shin twice in a span of three days.
The first was on a bad slide when stealing second base in Port St. Lucie last Friday and then, freakishly, getting hit during batting practice Sunday by a line drive in the same spot.
They were scheduled to play together Monday but Iglesias decided he wanted one more day, so Kinsler came to Clearwater with him.
"I was a little sore but not a big deal," Iglesias said. "It was playable. I was able to play without problem and really happy for that."
Right off the bat, Iglesias had a tough play.
Ben Revere, leading off the bottom of the first, hit a ball that caromed off of starter Alfredo Simon to Iglesias, who tried to get the speedy Revere at first.
Revere was safe, but it was close.
"I was trying," Iglesias said. "Revere is fast. But it was really close at first. So I’m really happy I can move around."
Ausmus was impressed with the attempt.
"That might be the only shortstop on the planet that would even attempt that throw," Ausmus said. "If you want to call it a throw, it was more of a roll. He dang near got him. He seems to be moving pretty well. He was fearless in his attempt to get the runner there."
Now Iglesias just has to make sure he meshes with Kinsler.
"I want to say everybody’s different but Kins is a pretty easygoing guy, especially I think the personality has to do a lot with it and Kinsler is a great human being, a great guy to talk with and one of the best in the business out there," Iglesias said.
Kinsler said he thought playing three or four more games with Iglesias would do the trick.
"It’s just the little things that you have to learn about each other," Kinsler said. "As far as making plays, that’s not the issue. It’s just getting comfortable with each other and getting enough innings under our belt to do that."
Iglesias was comfortable enough to video bomb Kinsler’s interview, so he has that going for him.
As for comparisons with Trammell and Whitaker, neither one was biting on that.
"I wish," Iglesias said.
"We’ll start with our first double play and go from there," Kinsler said. "We haven’t gotten one of those yet. Tram and Whitaker, if we’re anywhere near that, then we’ll be pleased. So we’re just working right now, trying to get familiar with each other and get the first double play out of the way."
Ausmus said as long as Iglesias feels OK, he’ll have the two back out there together in Thursday’s game.