The Tigers will open the season with Miguel Cabrera lined up at first base, manager A.J. Hinch told reporters this morning (Twitter link via Jason Beck of MLB.com). “I think he gives us the best chance to win at first base,” Hinch said of the soon-to-be 38-year-old. Cabrera didn’t play in the field at all in 2020, serving as a designated hitter for the Tigers on 56 occasions. He did see some action there in 2019 before sustaining a season-ending biceps injury, but Cabrera hasn’t logged even 300 innings in a season at first base since the 2017 campaign. It’s not a permanent arrangement, but playing Cabrera in the field from time to time allows an outfielder to move to DH on occasion and makes it easier for the Tigers to carry Rule 5 pick Akil Baddoo on the Opening Day roster.
Some more notes from the game’s Central divisions:
- Renato Nuñez will remain with the Tigers and head to the alternate training site to begin the 2021 season even after being informed that he didn’t make the Opening Day roster, writes Evan Woodbery of MLive.com. Hinch called the decision “great news for us” and said he expects Nuñez to eventually be up with the big league club. Nuñez, 27 on Sunday, slugged 43 homers with the Orioles from 2019-20 but didn’t exactly force his way onto Detroit’s roster with a spring they couldn’t ignore. In 13 games and 32 plate appearances, he slashed .194/.219/.355 with a homer and a dozen strikeouts (37.5 percent).
- The Cubs have interest in catchers Tony Wolters and Jonathan Lucroy, reports Bruce Levine of 670 the Score (Twitter link). A deal with the left-handed hitting Wolters might be more likely, Levine notes, considering Chicago’s starting catcher, Willson Contreras, hits right-handed. Both Wolters and Lucroy were recently released from minor-league deals with other clubs (the Pirates and White Sox, respectively) after failing to crack the active roster. Wolters has spent his entire MLB career with the Rockies, while Lucroy briefly played for the Cubs in 2019.
- Pirates right-hander Cody Ponce will not be available for Opening Day, GM Ben Cherington announced to reporters (including Rob Biertempfel of the Athletic). The 26-year-old “felt something…in his forearm area,” in the words of the GM. That sounds rather ominous but Ponce has at least been able to continue throwing on the side as he attempts to work through the injury. A former second-round pick of the Brewers, Ponce made his MLB debut with Pittsburgh last season, working to a 3.18 ERA/5.27 SIERA over five appearances.