Douglas Gives Tigers Second Thoughts





DETROIT—The Tigers enter spring training with a question mark about who the team's Opening Day starter at second base will be.

Will it be veteran Carlos Guillen, whose status to start the seaason is clouded by injury? Will it be Will Rhymes, who hit well in a September callup? Will it be Scott Sizemore, who was handed the job last spring but struggled? Or will it be Brandon Douglas, who received a non-roster invitation to spring training?

Brandon Douglas?

Yes, it may seem far-fetched that Douglas, a 25-year-old who has played just 35 career games above the high Class A level, will break camp as the Tigers' starter at second base. A short time ago it was hard to believe Douglas would even earn a spring training invite so early in his career.

An 11th-round pick in 2008 out of Northern Iowa, Douglas showed he could hit for average and get on base in the low Class A Midwest League in 2009, but was slowed by a hamstring injury in 2010 and did not play for high Class A Lakeland until early June.

The break didn't slow his bat. Douglas hit .331/.395/.426 in 37 games for the Flying Tigers to earn a promotion to Double-A Erie, and he batted .359/.405/.503 in his 35 games for the SeaWolves.

So Douglas enters the 2011 season with a .331 career average and a .383 on-base percentage (in 223 pro games), but there are questions. One is whether he will develop power (he has just four career home runs), but he has gap power that produced 17 doubles in 145 Double-A at-bats.

A bigger question is what position Douglas will play. Originally a shortstop, he moved to second base in 2009. Last year he spent time at second, third and shortstop, although his 18-game stint at short for Erie resulted in 10 errors. But with a bat like his, the Tigers will make room for Douglas somewhere—even if his best position is a crowded one.

TIGER TALES

• Also among those earning non-roster invitations to spring training was catcher Pat Leyland, son of manager Jim Leyland. Leyland is one of six catchers Detroit will bring to camp to deal with a larger-than-normal pitching staff.

• The Tigers signed 20-year-old righthander Sergio Beriguete for $200,000 out of the Dominican Prospect League.