Tigers will be prepared for Interleague twist

Tigers will be prepared for Interleague twist

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Though the Tigers faced the host Mets on Thursday afternoon in Grapefruit League action, Tigers manager Jim Leyland didn't need to deal with National League rules.

Yet, with Interleague Play throughout the season for the first time -- and expanded by two games -- there will be 10 instances over the course of the year when his pitching staff must be prepared for appearances at the plate and bases, beginning May 7 at Nationals Park.

"That'll be a project we'll work into our system," Leyland said. "I think it's too early right now. It'll be a little different this year. Work them a little more and figure out who those pitchers are going to be. That's a strange thing when pitchers start hitting and they haven't done it in awhile."

Moreover, Detroit's last regular-season series will be played at Marlins Park, something that could affect designated hitter Victor Martinez.

Martinez, 34, is a career .303 hitter with 143 home runs and 741 RBIs. Over 10 Major League seasons, Martinez has played 853 games at catcher and 152 at first base.

But with Alex Avila as the backstop, Prince Fielder at first and Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera at third, Martinez's playing time could be limited, and potentially magnified during a final regular-season series for a team expected to contend for the postseason.

"He's not going to play first because I've got Prince Fielder, and third because I've got Miguel Cabrera there, so the only other option -- obviously -- is if we felt he was healthy enough to catch a game to get his bat in the lineup," Leyland said of Martinez, who missed the 2012 season after having microfracture surgery on his left knee. "That would be an option. That's something once again down the road we'll address. We want to make sure he's healthy first and can be our consistent DH. And if that works out later on that would be great to get his bat in the lineup."

Christina De Nicola is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.