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Leyland: Ryan Raburn Is Tigers' Starting Second Baseman

With Scott Sizemore getting traded to Oakland, the follow-up question for the Detroit Tigers was who would play second base.

Ramon Santiago started in Friday night’s 6-3 loss to the Boston Red Sox. And Danny Worth was called up from Triple-A Toledo to take Sizemore’s spot on the Tigers’ active roster. But manager Jim Leyland apparently has someone else in mind for the job.

Following Friday’s game, Leyland told reporters that Ryan Raburn would be the starting second baseman. Raburn has started five games at second this season, as Leyland tried to find some offense for the position as Will Rhymes struggled. (Plus, Brennan Boesch’s early success nudged Raburn out of what was supposed to be his starting left field job.) He’s played 60 games there over his career, starting 47 of them.

Deciding on Raburn as the starter makes it somewhat curious that Worth was even called up. Do the Tigers need two utility infielders on their roster? But as Brian Packey and I discussed in the SB Nation Detroit cafeteria, Worth is probably around as insurance if Raburn can’t start generating some offense. (He’s currently batting .204/.248/.345.)

Leyland is hoping that being assured – yet again – of a regular starting position will give Raburn confidence and spur him to the sort of offense he produced in the second half of last season. Or as Leyland put it in his postgame remarks:

“I'm going to talk to him tomorrow about it,” Leyland said late Friday night. “To me, Raburn's season starts tomorrow. Forget everything that's happened up to this point. Start your season tomorrow. You're going to be the second baseman pretty much on an everyday basis, at least for a while.”

Last year, Raburn hit .315/.366/.534 with 13 home runs and 46 RBIs in 224 plate appearances. If Raburn is capable of repeating those numbers, this would be an excellent time for him to demonstrate it.

Frankly, it’s as good an option as any left on the Tigers’ roster. (Unless Carlos Guillen does actually recover enough to play this season. Oh, and stay healthy.) And if Raburn stays in his season-long slump, then at least Worth provides good defense at the position. Or maybe Santiago will get the majority of starts against right-handed pitching. This could safely be called a fluid situation for the Tigers right now.