CHICAGO -- The Tigers lost their everyday third baseman when Brandon Inge went on the 15-day disabled list on Friday with mononucleosis. So why did they fill his spot with a backup catcher?
The answer, long story short, is that they have Inge's replacements with the big club already.
"It would be different if we had some surefire prospect that we wanted to give a shot," manager Jim Leyland said, "but we don't have guys that are ready for that yet. So we'll just play around with [third base] with [Danny] Worth and [Don] Kelly."
Nick Castellanos, widely regarded as Detroit's third baseman of the future, is in his first pro season at Class A West Michigan. Francisco Martinez, a potentially promising third baseman, is at Double-A Erie, but he's just 20 years old and still finding his way offensively. The primary third baseman at Triple-A Toledo for much of the season was Worth, and he's already up.
Thus, the Tigers opted for late-game flexibility with Santos, who spent two weeks with the team in April while Victor Martinez was on the DL but played only once in that stretch. By adding Santos, Leyland said, he can use a pinch-runner or pinch-hitter for Alex Avila without having to shift Victor Martinez from the DH spot, something he doesn't want to do.
"It was a situation where we really don't need anybody else," Leyland said. "I don't mean that we're loaded. I just mean I've got a lot of outfielders. I've got a lot of infielders. If we were going to bring somebody up to play them, that's one thing, but that's not the case. We've got enough guys to play. So we might as well just add a catcher for a few days or however long it is."
If Magglio Ordonez returns from the DL on Monday, as the Tigers hope, it won't be for long. Ordonez began a rehab assignment with Triple-A Toledo on Friday. After playing right field on Friday and Sunday, sandwiched around a game at DH on Saturday, Ordonez will be re-evaluated. He has been on the DL for the last few weeks with weakness in his surgically repaired right ankle.