When spring training began in February three teams had the same question going into camp. Can a non-third baseman transition to the “Hot Corner”? With only a week into the season this question is still yet to be answered and becoming more of a concern for the Marlins and Angels. As for the Tigers, Miguel Cabrera has started to adjust to his new position, but keep in mind his career started at third.
Mark Trumbo has committed three errors in his first two games. He might be more beneficial as a designated hitter, backup first baseman, or transition to the outfield, because he is hurting the team more defensively than helping offensively. Now with acquisition of Pujols, Trumbo is hitting seventh, which makes for a strong lineup, but usually you want a player with great contact that can drive in runs in that spot. In his rookie season a year ago, Trumbo only had a .291 on-base percentage. Maybe continue the experiment until the end of the month and then look towards Alberto Callaspo or Macier Izturis and then prep Trumbo to replace Vernon Wells at some point.
The Marlins are going through the same growing pains with Hanley Ramirez. In the first four games, Ramirez has yet to commit an error but just does not look comfortable at third base. On opening night Wednesday against the Cardinals there was a groundball in the hole between third base and shortstop. Instead of being aggressive Ramirez looked at Reyes, Reyes looked at Ramirez and the ball ended up in left field. On Thursday at the Reds Opening Day, Ramirez bobbled a bunt, which was scored a surprising single, and numerous times Marlins pitcher Mark Buehrle was directing Ramirez on where to play. In Sunday’s game, the Reds walk-off hit came off of Scott Rolen’s bat when he is scorcher down the line that Ramirez got a glove on but was not able to hand. He was positioned correctly before the pitch, but played the groundball on the side of his body. Hard to judge if Ramirez would have thrown out speedy Drew Stubbs at the plate, but the ball was hit hard enough to make it close if fielded smoothly. Former major leaguer and bench coach, Joey Cora, is working with Ramirez but everybody knows game action is completely different than practice.
Cabrera has adapted well to his new role, but did not come with bumps and bruises along the way … literally. Cabrera missed the last two weeks of spring training after taking a groundball off his cheekbone. He has committed one error in his first three games. His bat makes up for his mistakes on the field with his three home runs and eight RBIs already on the season, but could become a factor if Cabrera commits an error in a playoff or key situation.
Third base should not be underestimated. It is one of the most difficult positions to play and the reason it’s called the “Hot Corner”.