Red-hot Holaday could make decisions tough for Tigers

Backup catcher swats 2 more HRs, including one off former college foe Strasburg

Red-hot Holaday could make decisions tough for Tigers

VIERA, Fla. -- While playing at Texas Christian University, Bryan Holaday faced off regularly against Stephen Strasburg, who was pitching at San Diego State, as rivals in the then-Mountain West Conference.

Holaday recalled homering once off Strasburg, just as he did in the second inning Saturday afternoon at Space Coast Stadium, his first of a pair of two-run shots during an 8-4 loss to the Nationals. It continued Holaday's scorching hot start: He is 5-for-7 with three homers and eight RBIs, although he could not offer much of an explanation.

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"Just seeing the ball good and getting pitches to hit and trying not to miss them," Holaday said.

Despite his hot start, his future with the Tigers is unclear.

James McCann figures to be the starting catcher and the team signed veteran Jarrod Saltalamacchia in the offseason to serve as a backup. The Tigers' lineup also predominantly skews right-handed and Saltalamacchia is a switch-hitter. However, Holaday denied playing with any extra motivation or urgency and credited his time at TCU for teaching him how to block out distractions.

"I think this staff knows what I can do," he said. "I don't think I've shown them anything. I go out there and I do my job. It's just been going well right now. But I think they know that no matter what happens I'm going to go out there and hit and do the same thing."

Holaday is also out of Minor League options, so the Tigers must either place him on the Opening Day roster or designate him for assignment. Still, he has been doing all he can with his opportunities to make a potential decision tough on the Tigers.

"He's been great. You never worry about effort or how much he cares," manager Brad Ausmus said. "Doc always has his heart in the right place or his head in the right place and he'll outwork or work as hard as anyone. That's never been a question."

Jamal Collier is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.