Leyland doesn't want to be left short-handed

Leyland doesn't want to be left short-handed

Leyland doesn't want to be left short-handed
DETROIT -- While Tigers manager Jim Leyland has played matchups in figuring out who's at second and third base to start each game, he knows who he wants in at the end if they have a lead. That isn't nearly as big of a concern, but it's something he's starting to think about as the season unfolds.

While Don Kelly lost playing time at third base with Brandon Inge, he regained a spot as a defensive replacement in the corner outfield spots late in games with a lead. Inge, when he isn't starting at third, will be a late-game replacement at the hot corner. Ramon Santiago has done the same at second on days when Ryan Raburn starts.

That accounts for three of the Tigers' four reserve spots. If it's a close game in which the Tigers don't take the lead until late, the other slot would've been lost to a pinch-hitter.

"To be honest with you, we've had to defense for too many people," Leyland said. "If you're just defensing for one, that's fine. But we've defensed at third, we've defensed at second, we've defensed in the outfield. That makes it tough as a manager, because at some point -- like the other night, nobody said anything the other night, but I played the end of the game without an extra player. I didn't have an infielder if somebody got hurt."

That would have been on Wednesday, when Leyland used Wilson Betemit to pinch-hit for Kelly and Raburn to pinch-hit for Austin Jackson at designated hitter in the ninth. Leyland could have moved Raburn into the infield if need be, but he would've lost the DH slot. He was out of position players, so a pitcher would've had to bat in that spot behind Miguel Cabrera had the Tigers scored off Joe Nathan and sent the game into extra innings.