LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Steve Lombardozzi has played just 20 games at shortstop in his professional career, Major and Minor Leagues. He might not match that total there this Spring Training, but he could come close, beginning with Wednesday's start in the Tigers' Grapefruit League opener against the Braves, a 6-5 rain-shortened victory.
Simply put, the Tigers have to figure out if he can handle starting there for a few days if Jose Iglesias has a day-to-day type of injury in the regular season.
"If Iglesias is in that in-between injury phase where he doesn't need to go on the DL but maybe he'll be down for five, six days, we need to have someone who can play shortstop for five or six days without having to recall a player from the Minor Leagues," said manager Brad Ausmus. "So we need to find out if Lombardozzi can be that guy."
For years, the Tigers had a traditional utility infielder on their roster who could handle that in Ramon Santiago, but they opted not to re-sign him. Hernan Perez and Danny Worth seemed to be in line to compete for a similar role, but Lombardozzi's arrival in the Doug Fister trade and Don Kelly's return left Detroit leaning towards keeping two superutility players on its bench.
Kelly came up through the Tigers' system as a shortstop, but he isn't an option. Tigers officials have confidence Lombardozzi can handle it, but they want to see him do it.
Iglesias is scheduled to start at shortstop for Thursday's Spring Training home opener, also against the Braves (1:05 p.m. ET, live on Gameday Audio). He's also slated to bat leadoff with Ian Kinsler off. Austin Jackson, Detroit's leadoff man for the past four years, is slated to bat sixth.