With Castro at SS, where does Goodrum fit?

Detroit Tigers

DETROIT — The Tigers moved Niko Goodrum from shortstop to second base upon his return from the injured list on Tuesday, so that they could get a longer look at Willi Castro . But does that mean the Tigers no longer view Goodrum as a shortstop?
“It depends on who

DETROIT — The Tigers moved Niko Goodrum from shortstop to second base upon his return from the injured list on Tuesday, so that they could get a longer look at Willi Castro . But does that mean the Tigers no longer view Goodrum as a shortstop?

“It depends on who you talk to,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. “They don’t all just say one thing, so all my bosses have opinions on the whole thing, and they should. They are the bosses. We all know — and you guys saw — that Niko played a helluva shortstop this year, and he can do that. But he also can play multiple positions, outfield, infield, because he’s done that, too.

“This is just to get a look at Willi more than anything else. And those decisions next year will be made next year.”

Goodrum began the season as the Tigers’ everyday shortstop, his first chance at a full-time position after two years as a super-utility player. He registered at 3 outs above average in just 29 games at short, according to Statcast. However, Goodrum has struggled at the plate, batting .197 with a .661 OPS through Tuesday despite five home runs and 18 RBIs.

Asked about his reaction, Goodrum was diplomatic.

“It’s not my team,” Goodrum said. “It’s their decision they want to make. I’ve got to go play ball. That’s the only thing I can do, is play ball. That’s what they feel is best for the team, so the only thing I can do is go out there and play wherever they put me and go from there.”

Goodrum’s versatility has been an asset, but the ability to focus on one position was a strength at short. He’d like to have one position on which to focus. Whether he can do the same focusing at second, where Jonathan Schoop is a free agent at season’s end, could be interesting.

“I’d much rather be not bouncing around, but it is something that I can do,” Goodrum said. “I have that in my bag, so it is what it is. The big thing is to go in there and hit, help the team win, catch the ball, throw the ball and get outs wherever I’m playing at. I can only control what I can do.”

Spring Training schedule announced
While the Tigers evaluate their rookies down the stretch for next season, they now have a Spring Training schedule for next year. Detroit is slated to open its 85th season in Lakeland, Fla., and 56th consecutive season at Joker Marchant Stadium with an exhibition against Southeastern University on Feb. 26, with its Grapefruit League home opener on Feb. 28 against the Red Sox.

The Tigers will open Grapefruit League play on Feb. 27 against the Yankees in Tampa, the first of four scheduled meetings between the clubs next spring. Detroit will face Philadelphia six times, including games in Lakeland on March 12, 23 and 27. The Tigers and Blue Jays will play four times, including March 11 and 21 in Lakeland. The Tigers and Rays have five meetings slated over the final two weeks, including a home-and-home series March 29 in Lakeland and March 30 at Tropicana Field to end Spring Training.

Other teams heading to Joker Marchant Stadium include the Astros on March 1 and the Nationals on March 7.

Tigers to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Weekend
The Tigers will join Major League Baseball in celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month this weekend with a special Zoom call including Hall of Famer Ivan Rodriguez, third-base coach Ramon Santiago and former Tigers Juan Berenguer and Placido Polanco. The call will serve as a launch for a Hispanic Heritage page on tigers.com chronicling current and former Latino Tigers.

Ago Benavides, chair of the board for LA SED Resource Network, will throw a virtual first pitch prior to Saturday’s game against Cleveland, while kids from the program will announce the starting lineups.

Quick hits
• Outfielder Daz Cameron was out of Wednesday’s lineup amidst a 1-for-24 start with 10 strikeouts. “I have a pretty good feel for when I see a guy a little starry-eyed and looks like he’s struggling mentally,” Gardenhire said. “It happens to all these young guys.”

• Gardenhire said he’s preparing his end-of-season travel assuming the Tigers will make up their doubleheader against the Cardinals on Sept. 28, which they’ll have to do if the games have playoff implications. “I am planning personally that we are probably going to play on Monday,” he said.

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck’s Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason.

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