Duquette and A. Gonzalez talk about the trade

SARASOTA, Fla. - Executive vice president Dan Duquette stopped by the media workroom this morning to discuss the trade that sent Alex Gonzalez to the Tigers for Steve Lombardozzi.

“Steve Lombardozzi is a talented infielder,” Duquette said. “He’s good at second base and can also play third and the outfield. Switch-hitter. Good hands. He’s a hustler, a scrappy player. Has two years experience and he’s just 25 years old. So, we think he’ll be very helpful for our team. And he’s a local kid. He’s from Columbia and we always look for that.

“We’re glad to have him and we hope to have him here as soon as we can.”

He’s here. Lombardozzi is listed among the reserves for today’s game against the Red Sox.

duquette-showalter-sidebar.jpgDuquette saw a good fit with the Tigers, who lost shortstop Jose Iglesias.

“Detroit needed a shortstop and we have a shortstop, and we have some other players that can back up at shortstop. So, we had some depth that was available in the trade,” Duquette said.

Lombardozzi is expected to break camp with the team, with his role to be determined.

“We’re taking him right now with that in mind,” Duquette said. “We’ll see how it goes in the next couple days, but our reports are that he can play second, third and in the outfield. And he can contribute offensively from both sides of the plate. Good fundamental player.”

The trade comes one day after the Orioles confirmed that third baseman Manny Machado will begin the season on the disabled list.

“It was more about the depth of our infield,” Duquette said. “We could have taken Alex and put him on our 25-man roster and he could have played. We had a solution in camp. But I think the Tigers needed a shortstop more than we needed a veteran third baseman. We have some other options, players that can play third base other than Alex.

“Alex plays third base fine, but he’s a shortstop by trade and the Tigers needed a shortstop.”

Lombardozzi could start at second base on opening day against Red Sox left-hander Jon Lester. Otherwise, he’s perfectly suited for a utility role.

“The reports are that his best position is second base,” Duquette said.

“He gives us good depth at second and third, and with his switch-hitting capability, he gives us some good options. He’s already got two years of experience and he’s only 25 years old.”

Lombardozzi is 25, has minor league options and is under team control through 2018. Gonzalez is 37 and had been signed to a minor league deal.

Seems like a good trade for the Orioles, who were contacted by the Tigers. General manager Dave Dombrowski had Gonzalez with the Marlins.

“Detroit needed a shortstop, OK?” Duquette said. “There’s other players that can play second and third, but your first utility player needs to be able to play shortstop. It was the result of our infield depth, which allowed us to make this trade.

“Fred Ferreira and Calvin Maduro did a nice job on recommending Gonzalez to us. They saw him play in winter ball. And Alex deserves a lot of credit to get himself back to the big leagues, because he went and played winter ball, he had a very good spring training.

“Alex is a good player. He’s a dependable, proven player.”

Duquette thanked Gonzalez and wished him luck as they shook hands in the media room.

Gonzalez was called into manager Buck Showalter’s office and given confirmation of the trade.

“For me, I was a little bit surprised,” Gonzalez said. “This morning, you know there’s a decision, and you’re thinking about it. Detroit wanted me. I’m excited for the news. For me, it’s a big opportunity, a chance to play shortstop and play every day. That’s what I’m looking forward to.

“I was here and enjoying a great team and great teammates, great coaches. I’m excited for the change to play every day. In spring training, I had a chance to show the team I could still play. I’m excited about the opportunity. I can play short, and they know me. They traded for me and I’m very happy for it.

“I knew (Iglesias) got hurt. I found out this week that he’s out for the season. I had an opportunity to play here, a chance to make the club, and now I’m going right away to Detroit. Detroit was the first team that tried to sign me (this winter) when I played in Venezuela, but I signed with these guys. Now, I’m traded, and I feel pretty excited about it.”

The Orioles eventually will remove Machado from the camp roster by putting him on the disabled list.

“He needs to meet some of these thresholds with his running before he can play, and after he meets those thresholds running, he probably needs at least 50 at-bats to be prepared to compete in the major leagues,” Duquette said. “The calendar really drove the decision.”

Machado is expected to make his debut next month.

“Hope so,” Duquette said. “These things take a little time. At the original surgery, the doctor alluded that it may not be opening day, right?

“Opening day would have been nice, but it’s really driven by how Manny responds and meets these thresholds that he has to meet as he progresses back to being an every day ballplayer.”

Ryan Flaherty likely will start at third base in Machado’s absence.

“Ryan Flaherty can play second, short and third,” Duquette said. “We just acquired two young infielders who can play second and third in David Adams and Lombardozzi.”

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