LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Pudge Rodriguez is in the mix as a potential leadoff batter in the Tigers' 2007 lineup, and outfielder Marcus Thames may become Sean Casey's back-up at first base, Tigers manager Jim Leyland said Wednesday at baseball's winter meetings.
Leyland said he was undecided on a No. 3 hitter -- generally considered to be a team's best offensive player -- but that it would likely be Carlos Guillen or newly acquired Gary Sheffield.
"I wrote out some lineups last night," Leyland said, speaking at the Disney Dolphin Hotel, where the winter meetings are being held. "We've got some nice flexibility."
Leyland said he was tinkering with thoughts about using Rodriguez as a leadoff hitter because of Rodriguez's brief, but successful, stint there in 2006 -- "He did a nice job," Leyland said -- and because he is uncertain if regular leadoff batter Curtis Granderson will be his automatic choice at the top of Detroit's batting order.
Placido Polanco is also being considered as a possible leadoff choice.
Thames, who hit 26 home runs for the Tigers in 348 at-bats in 2006, will soon be introduced to a ground-balls regimen, Leyland said, as the Tigers manager tries to find room for a right-hand power-hitter who figures to get minimal work in the outfield with Sheffield now on hand.
"That's what you have to do is be creative," Leyland said of his lineup considerations. "(Thames) is a big hitter. Can he do it (play first)? I don't know. But this is a guy who hit 26 homers in (348) at-bats. I'm not gonna forget about Marcus Thames."
The Tigers as of Wednesday afternoon were no closer to making any kind of trade for a left-handed reliever or to boost another position. The winter meetings wrap up Thursday.
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