BRADENTON, Fla. — The Detroit Tigers think Alex Gonzalez is not too old to be a solution to their shortstop problem.
In need of a replacement for injured Jose Iglesias, Detroit acquired the 37-year-old from the Baltimore Orioles today for infielder Steve Lombardozzi.
Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski said Gonzalez could get the bulk of the playing time, sharing the position with Andrew Romine, who was acquired Friday from the Los Angeles Angels.
“I’m not looking at 150 games,” Dombrowski said. “He’s an older guy. But we do think he can be a key guy for us.”
Gonzalez has a .246 average with six major league teams and was the starting shortstop for the 2003 World Series champion Florida Marlins. Gonzalez agreed Jan. 31 to a minor league contract that calls for a $1.1 million salary in the major leagues. He had a .429 batting average during spring training with Baltimore and is to report to Tigers on Tuesday.
“He’s always had great hands, and I can’t imagine his hands have gotten any worse,” Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. “I’ve heard great things about him in spring training, as far as how he’s moving. And I think his experience is a huge advantage.”
Dombrowski said his office had been busy for the past week trying to find replacement shortstops. There even was joking speculation the team might try to talk first base coach Omar Vizquel, 46, into making a comeback.
Vizquel saw Gonzalez play winter ball in Venezuela and gave the Tigers a positive scouting report.
“He’s younger than Omar,” Ausmus said with a laugh. Two years ago Vizquel was the oldest shortstop in big league history.
The 25-year-old Lombardozzi hit .259 with two homers and 22 RBIs for the Washington Nationals last season and was dealt to Detroit in December for pitcher Doug Fister.
To make room for Lombardozzi on the 40-man roster, the Orioles designated catcher Johnny Monell for assignment.