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Kobernus gets start in left field


DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Saturday exemplified the role Jeff Kobernus is going to fill if he makes the Tigers' roster. He started in left field and batted against a left-handed starter.

His day in left field left him with very little work to show for it. His plate appearances against Jays lefty Ricky Romero made a bigger impression.

"I thought he gave about two or three really outstanding at-bats today, starting with the first one of the game," manager Jim Leyland said.

Kobernus worked out of two-strike counts to draw two walks off Romero. The first was an 0-2 hole, and included a foul ball on a 2-2 pitch. An inning later, Kobernus was down in a 1-2 count before Romero tried to get him to chase pitches out of the zone. Kobernus shrugged them off and walked again.

It's not a complicated two-strike approach, but it's a relaxed one for someone who hadn't seen a lot of big league pitching until this spring. As a speedster with a track record of stolen bases, simply getting on base means a decent chance to get into scoring position.

"For the most part, before I'm in two strikes, I'm looking for a good pitch to hit," Kobernus said. "When I get into two strikes, I'm just looking to put something in play to give myself a chance, just trying to put the barrel on the ball and see the ball and protect the zone a little bit."

Defensively, Kobernus watched Jose Bautista's home run soar out, and he ran down a seventh-inning double off the left-field fence. He made one putout, reinforcing manager Jim Leyland's point that a start in left field doesn't always translate to a test.

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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