Tigers Move Ciriaco Back To Shortstop





DETROIT—Audy Ciriaco has a new position this year. Funny thing is, for him it's also his old position.

The 23-year-old Ciriaco, who spent five seasons in the Tigers system as a shortstop before moving to third base last year, has moved back to short.

"(Playing third base) was just an addition to his toolbox, because eventually he's going to be a power guy," farm director Mike Rojas said. "We came to the conclusion that he needs to play every day, and the spot for him to play every day is shortstop in Erie."

Ciriaco's stay at third base was relatively brief. He played in just 61 games there for Double-A Erie last season, batting .241/.264/.419 but slugging nine home runs after a left wrist bruise delayed his start by a month. He was promoted to Triple-A Toledo in late July but played in only one game for the Mud Hens before the wrist injury ended his season.

Ciriaco's biggest asset on defense is a plus arm that has been ranked among the best in several different leagues, but he made 41 errors for low Class A West Michigan in 2008 and 30 for high Class A Lakeland the following season.

Last year a glut of shortstop prospects—Cale Iorg, Gustavo Nunez, Brent Dlugach and Danny Worth among them—prompted the move to third. But last season Francisco Martinez emerged as a prospect and the Tigers used their first pick in the amateur draft on Nick Castellanos, giving the team two highly regarded third base prospects.

What clinched the move back to short was Ciriaco's 14 errors in 61 games at third, although the Tigers said their big concern with the young infielder is on offense, not defense.

"The big thing for him is to hit," Rojas said. "If things click for Ciriaco, he's going to be a good player in the major leagues. But he needs to hit."

TIGER TALES

• First baseman Billy Nowlin, who suffered a concussion when he was hit by a pitch late in spring training, was activated from the disabled list on April 15 and sent to West Michigan.

• Nunez, who hit .222/.263/.281 with Lakeland last season, started this year with the Flying Tigers and had 14 hits in his first 42 at-bats, scoring 12 runs in his first 10 games. He was caught stealing in three of his first four attempts, though.