Raburn gets chance to claim second-base job

Raburn gets chance to claim second-base job

NEW YORK -- One day after the Tigers released Brandon Inge to help clear the logjam at second base, Ryan Raburn began his effort to eliminate the mix altogether. He's going to get his shot.

"I'm going to run Raburn out there and see if he can be the second baseman and use [Ramon Santiago] at short and second from time to time," manager Jim Leyland said. "I'm going to run Raburn out there for a few days in a row."

It's an interesting decision, given Raburn's trend of early-season struggles over the past several years. But it's an effort to try to eliminate any stress over his situation.

Raburn was mired in a 4-for-44 slump before going 2-for-3 with an RBI in Thursday's loss to the Mariners. Whether that's enough to get him out of his season-opening skid remains to be seen with Freddy Garcia and CC Sabathia awaiting the mound for the Yankees over the weekend. Raburn is 1-for-9 off Garcia and 4-for-24 off Sabathia.

The hope is that the repetitions will help. It's similar to Leyland's approach with Raburn leading into last summer, which finally yielded results around midseason.

Part of it, too, is a reaction to the rest of the lineup. Now that the Tigers have Brad Eldred up amid a scorching-hot April, Leyland said he's going to make him the regular designated hitter.

"We're going to have a regular DH for a while," Leyland said. "How long that's going to go on, I have no idea."

As long as it goes, Raburn has to either play at second or left field. And Leyland has other plans in left.

"That means Raburn won't have to play out there [in left]," Leyland said. "Get [Andy] Dirks some playing time. Get [Don] Kelly some playing time. Maybe move Raburn out there late in the game in a defensive situation, where you want to put Santiago at second."