Without the designated hitter spot at his disposal Tigers manager Jim Leyland is getting creative for interleague play tonight by starting catcher Alex Avila at third base, where he hasn’t played a single inning since college.
Detroit’s regular third baseman, Brandon Inge, is on the disabled list, and playing Avila out of position allows Victor Martinez to get into the lineup at catcher.
Despite seeing zero action at third base in the majors or minors Avila seems pretty comfortable with the move, telling Ted Kulfan of the Detroit News: “It won’t be anything new for me. Just go out there and see what happens.”
It probably won’t be pretty–and I’m curious why Leyland wouldn’t just play Miguel Cabrera at third base, where he has plenty of experience–but Avila has been a damn good catcher this year, throwing out 40 percent of steal attempts, and it’s easy to see why Leyland would be willing to sacrifice defense to keep his bat in the lineup with a .304 average and .916 OPS through 58 games.
Last month, free agent right-hander Bartolo Colon told reporters that he’d be open to taking a minor league deal in 2018, but only if he was guaranteed a return to the Mets’ system. The 44-year-old starter is nearing the end of a 20-year career, and it makes sense that he’d want to have one last hurrah in the city where he had some of his most productive years.
Now, Twins starter Ervin Santana tells Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press, it looks like the Mets might also be open to a reunion. It’s doubtful that Colon has all that much left in the tank, especially following a combined 7-14 record and 6.48 ERA for the Braves and Twins last year, but he’s not necessarily looking to reproduce the 15+ win, sub-4.00 ERA totals of years past.
Instead, Santana says, Colon is seeking the opportunity to win just six more games. He’ll enter the 2018 season five wins shy of the all-time record for a Latin American-born player, and is hoping to claim that title for himself before he enters retirement in 2019. Former Orioles and Expos hurler Dennis Martinez currently holds the record after clinching his 245th win back in 1998. While it took Colon a full season of starts to come up with even seven wins in 2017, he’s only one year removed from a 15-win campaign in 2016. Provided that the Mets are willing to gamble on him again, the milestone may not be that far out of reach.