Paul Wezner, Executive Editor
While the timing of this injury couldn't have been worse for Curtis Granderson, we can be hopeful that Granderson will miss just a couple weeks of the regular season, as opposed to last season, when the Tigers lost Kenny Rogers just before Opening Day for the first half of the year, sending the team into a scramble. The Tigers can put Brandon Inge in centerfield while Granderson recovers, and on the days Inge is needed behind the plate, the Tigers can just shift Jacque Jones over to center, and put Marcus Thames in left. And in an effort to keep the heart of the order together, the easiest move will be to jump Edgar Renteria up from the bottom third of the order to the leadoff slot. This keeps Placido Polanco hitting second where manager Jim Leyland prefers him, and realistically, Renteria would be a legit option for hitting leadoff if the Tigers didn't already have Granderson.
Mark Anderson, Managing Editor
Its a good thing this injury isn't more substantial, as this would have the potential to put the Tigers in quite a bind. As it stands, they have multiple options they can employ in center field for a short duration, including Brandon Inge, Ryan Raburn, Freddy Guzman, and even Jacque Jones. Guzman brings good defense and anemic offense. Jones would struggle to cover the vast expanse of center field in Comerica. Inge's bat has been slightly more impressive this spring, and he's flashed some leather in the outfield in the past. Raburn is probably the most well-rounded of the four, with solid offense and defense. In the end, it sounds more and more like Inge in center for a short time, until Granderson is ready for action. As for the leadoff spot; that's where things get really interesting. The Tigers don't really have additional candidates for this role. Manager Jim Leyland has toyed with Pudge leading off against lefties, but given his propensity for a more hactastic style, I'm not sure how wise this move really is. While Edgar Renteria has spent the bulk of his career in the second, sixth, and seventh slots, he does have about a third of a season worth of experience leading off; posting a .282/.350/.411 line over that span of 279 plate appearances. Another player with experience in the role is left fielder Jacque Jones, who has posted some of the better split numbers of his career in such a role. From this seat, given Renteria's propensity for additional walks and better contact rates, I'd opt for him filling the leadoff role in Granderson's absence.
Jason Avery, Associate Editor, Amateur Baseball
I think the Tigers will keep the position in-house. They can put either Brandon Inge in the outfield, or bring Freddy Guzman north with them, but given that Curtis Granderson will miss roughly a week's worth of games, I would put Inge out there. As far as who will leadoff, the Tigers could go with Pudge Rodriguez, who had 65 at-bats last year, or they could put Placido Polanco there and have Edgar Renteria hit second. Although the injury to Granderson is a tough one, especially at this juncture of spring training, the Tigers do have a few options to cover this.
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