BEN WALKER, AP Baseball Writer
LAKELAND, Fla. (AP) — Detroit shortstop Jose Iglesias says he has stress fractures in both legs and isn’t sure when he’ll be able to play again, leaving the Tigers two weeks to fill his spot for opening day and perhaps a lot longer.
“It’s bad news for me and bad news for the team as well,” Iglesias told Tigers reporters before Monday’s exhibition against Washington was rained out.
The 24-year-old Iglesias is set to see a specialist in Colorado on Tuesday. After that, he’ll have a better idea on his future status.
The smooth-fielding Iglesias played through pain in his shins last year while hitting .303 for Boston and Detroit. He said he intends to return this season to the three-time AL Central champion Tigers.
“Absolutely,” he said. “But for now, my goal is to get healthy, get rid of this, because the pain is really bad. I just want to get rid of it and come back 100 percent.”
Minus Iglesias, the Tigers might pick from among three players already in camp to be their shortstop — Danny Worth, Hernan Perez and Eugenio Suarez.
Free agent shortstop Stephen Drew also is available, and Seattle infielder Nick Franklin could be a possible trade target.
New Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said he wouldn’t dwell on Iglesias’ absence.
“You take the 25 players that are starting the season and try to find a way to win on a daily basis,” he said. “You don’t bury your face in your hands crying about what could have been. It’s counterproductive.”
Detroit general manager Dave Dombrowski said Sunday that Iglesias will begin the season on the disabled list. The Tigers open on March 31 at home against Kansas City.
The Tigers acquired Iglesias during last July from Boston in a three-team trade. He occasionally missed games while dealing with shin splints that hurt him while running, and hoped he would feel better this spring.
But Ausmus said he spotted something was off with Iglesias in the Tigers’ exhibition opener on Feb. 26. Iglesias hasn’t played since then and saw a specialist last week.
Iglesias said he had “small fractures” in both legs. While disappointed at the diagnosis, he added, “at the end of the day, it’s good as well, because I know what’s going on now. It’s something that I’ve got to deal with, but something that will go away with time.”
“I was able to play through it last year, but that’s not going to happen this year,” he said.
NOTES: Ausmus said RHP Justin Verlander will pitch on opening day against the Royals. It will be his seventh straight year to start the opener. Verlander had core muscle repair surgery in January, a month after hurting himself while conditioning. Ausmus acknowledged that it was tough choice between Verlander and reigning AL Cy Young winner Max Scherzer. … RHP Anibal Sanchez was scratched from Monday’s start even before the game was rained out. Trainer Kevin Rand said Sanchez had some inflammation in his shoulder, but expected him to be OK for his next scheduled start.
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