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Veteran Gonzalez inconsistent at shortstop

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DETROIT -- If there's a fountain of youth for 37-year-old Tigers shortstop Alex Gonzalez, it appears to be up the middle. It's where he has consistently made his better plays on defense, the latest being a rangy stop and toss to start a double play on Jason Kipnis to end Thursday's opening inning.

Gonzalez's miscues or non-plays, by contrast, have mainly come in other directions, either in the hole or charging in. It doesn't seem to be an arm issue, so much as range or positioning.

"Alex has scuffled a little bit at times defensively," manager Brad Ausmus said Wednesday, "but I think he's also a much better defender than what we've seen. So I think in that sense, I'm being a little more patient. But Andrew [Romine] needs to play."

Thursday marked Gonzalez's fourth consecutive start at short after he and Romine essentially split the first eight games.

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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