LAKELAND, Fla. -- Steve Lombardozzi spent most of this spring working as a middle infielder, as he prepared to serve as the backup shortstop to Jose Iglesias. With the Tigers now prepared for the possibility Iglesias will miss significant time with his ailing shins, Lombardozzi now has to prepare for a new role: outfielder.
It's reverse thinking, but there's a reasoning to it.
"Depending on how long [Iglesias is] going to be out, we may or may not need two shortstops," manager Brad Ausmus said. "If we need two shortstops, you probably can't carry an extra outfielder."
In other words, carrying two shortstops -- whether for a platoon or a true starter-and-backup situation -- would fill Iglesias' roster spot and a bench spot, which otherwise would go to an extra outfielder. It also would drastically reduce the need for Lombardozzi to play short, except in an emergency scenario.
Under that scenario, Lombardozzi and Don Kelly would be the backup outfielders -- not only in left field for Rajai Davis, but for center fielder Austin Jackson and right fielder Torii Hunter, as well.
Lombardozzi played the entire game in left field during Saturday's 14-3 win over Houston, going 1-for-4 with two RBIs. He is not scheduled to play on Sunday.