Ausmus: Moya's outfield D will improve

Ausmus: Moya's outfield D will improve

TORONTO -- The Tigers have reaped the benefits of Steven Moya's bat in the lineup against right-handed pitchers as they try to fill the offensive void left by J.D. Martinez's elbow injury. Moya's glove -- or more relevant in recent days, his legs in the outfield -- remains a work in progress.

To some degree, Moya's range in the outfield will always be limited to a degree by his size. His 6-foot-7 frame will never move with the same agility as a smaller player, meaning he'll take longer to get to fly balls and base hits. Though he has speed, his size means he takes longer to reach top gear.

That said, Tigers manager Brad Ausmus sees potential for improvement.

"You watch him run down the line, and he's got the ability to run a little bit faster than he does in the outfield, because in the outfield, I think he's trying to track the ball," Ausmus said. "I think he'll have the ability, when he recognizes the ball off the bat, [to] not necessarily have to follow the ball the whole way. Hopefully that translates into a little bit more coverage. But it's something he's got to work at."

Moya's body gives him the advantage of a strong arm, which he has used well. Though Moya entered play Sunday with four assists in 24 games in the outfield, three errors have resulted in below-average defensive metrics, including minus-4 Defensive Runs Saved and a negative-0.5 Ultimate Zone Rating. However, he had a plus-0.9 UZR last year in just seven games in the outfield.

Utility man Mike Aviles has been entering as a late-inning defensive replacement when Moya starts, mainly for range. Aviles has had his adventures in right, including a near-collision with Cameron Maybin in center field earlier this weekend.

Martinez, out the last three weeks with a fractured bone in his right elbow, was taking swings off a tee Sunday morning at Rogers Centre as he tries to work his way back to action. The original timetable on his June 17 injury was four to six weeks, but Ausmus said Sunday he's still a few weeks away.

Quick hits

• The Tigers are looking into a dugout argument Saturday at Triple-A Toledo between Anthony Gose and Mud Hens manager Lloyd McClendon, and Gose's subsequent absence from the Mud Hens' game Sunday. Tigers assistant general manager David Chadd said Sunday that the argument, which took place during the fifth inning of Game 1 of a Saturday doubleheader, according to the Toledo Blade, was a heat-of the-moment incident based on defense. Gose was sent home Saturday, and his locker was reportedly cleared out Sunday. Team officials are expected to discuss the matter over the break. Gose, the Tigers' Opening Day center fielder this season, has hit just .185 in 50 games since being optioned to Toledo to make room for Maybin.

•  The Mud Hens are expected to get another former Major League outfielder after the All-Star break. Detroit signed Alex Presley to a Minor League contract on Saturday for organizational depth. Presley, who turns 31 later this month, hit .198 (23-for-116) in limited play with the Brewers before being released last week. He's a career .253 hitter in the Majors who can play all three outfield positions.

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for since 2002. 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.