Ausmus 'mulling over' using Davis in opener

Ausmus 'mulling over' using Davis in opener

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Rajai Davis led off the Tigers' lineup for the final three days of Grapefruit League play, working his way back to action after a week off to address a sore hamstring. There's no guarantee Davis will be leading off when the Tigers open the season on Monday against the Royals.

For that matter, there's no guarantee yet that Davis will be starting that game in left field.

"I'm still kind of mulling that over a little bit," manager Brad Ausmus said.

It's not an automatic matchup play. The Tigers' Opening Day opposing starter is right-hander James Shields, which would normally play into Davis' struggles against righties. However, right-handed batters have historically fared better against Shields, batting 15 points higher than lefties for his career and 39 points higher last year. Right-handed hitters produced a .272 average off Shields in 2013, compared with .233 from left-handed batters.

Davis is just 2-for-14 with three strikeouts for his career off Shields, but the two hits have come in the last two years. Don Kelly, for comparison's sake, is 1-for-6. Tyler Collins has never faced him, having never played in the big leagues, but there could be a trepidation to playing a rookie on Opening Day who has never hit above Double-A.

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.