MLB Spring Training: Has Ryan Raburn Had His Last Chance at a Full-Time Job?

Christopher Czar@@detsportsczarContributor IMarch 10, 2012

ANAHEIM, CA - JULY 04:  Ryan Raburn #25 of the Detroit Tigers bats against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on July 4, 2011 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Something tells me that Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland isn't too enamored with Ryan Raburn.

Not that I can totally blame him. Raburn has never exactly hopped on any opportunity to show that he can be an every day player. Raburn's early season struggles and mental lapses in defense have made him a player that is polarizing to fans.

Luckily—or perhaps unluckily—Brandon Inge is still on the Tigers' roster. 

It's lucky for Raburn because without him, Raburn would surely be the biggest target of public scorn that the Tigers have. It's unlucky for him because Leyland's infatuation with the Mendoza line straddling Inge likely means less at-bats for Raburn.

In 2011, Raburn's story of his career came through once again in full fruition. After the first three months of the season, Raburn was hitting a mere .205 leading to a lot of DNP's in his game log.

While it seems .205 would be a career year for Brandon Inge, a slow start like that just doesn't cut it for Raburn, who is obviously depended on for his offense. 

In typical fashion, Raburn once again heated up and was good in the playoffs. Perhaps because of his annual early struggles he's lost the complete trust of Leyland as a permanent, full-time answer anywhere in the field.

Raburn was thought to be the primary second baseman heading into the season, but it appears that Inge is going to be given every opportunity there and here's guessing that he will open there to start the season.

The other likely position would be to play Raburn in left field. While he's as adventurous as an Indiana Jones movie in the outfield, he's superior defensively to Delmon Young. However, Young hasn't exactly been quiet about not wanting to be the DH and Leyland doesn't like to make his players unhappy.

So it's looking like Raburn is once again finding himself without a home in the field. He'll still get some reps in the field, though—filling in at second when Inge or Ramon Santiago aren't there or spelling Young in left—and he'll fill in at DH whenever Miguel Cabrera or Prince Fielder aren't there.

This year has the look of a 300 at-bat season for Raburn and then off to free agency. Unless, of course, he can reverse his first half struggles and force Leyland to get him into the every day lineup.


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