LAKELAND, Fla. -- The Tigers open and close their regular season in National League cities, turning what would normally be midseason opportunities for resting players into potential lineup manipulations with no designated hitter. With Opening Day at the Marlins three weeks away, manager Brad Ausmus will explore the idea of playing Miguel Cabrera at third base and Victor Martinez at first during part of that two-game set.
Martinez was expected to get a game or two at first base this week, but those plans could be delayed after he suffered a mild left hamstring strain running the bases Monday during the Tigers' 9-2 win against the Mets.
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Then next week, Cabrera will probably get a game at third, according to Ausmus.
It's not a new idea, but it's one that never got going last year with Cabrera and Martinez both dealing with injuries. Cabrera, an everyday third baseman in 2012 and '13 during Prince Fielder's Tigers tenure at first, played 10 games at third in '14 but none last season. His recovery from foot and ankle surgery the previous offseason, plus a midseason calf injury that cost him six weeks, ruled it out.
Cabrera is healthy and stronger this spring, which has shown in his play at first base and his baserunning. Likewise, Martinez's troublesome left knee seems strong again, even if his hamstring provided a scare Monday. He played 10 games at first base last year.
"He won't play it regularly," Ausmus said, "but it's also a good way to get Miggy off his feet if Vic can play a day game over there after a night game and allow Miggy to DH. We didn't have that luxury, really, last year. We did it towards the end out of necessity."
In the case of Interleague Play, it would be necessity, if Ausmus wants both of their bats in the lineup. The secondary impact would put third baseman Nick Castellanos on the bench for a game or two.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.