LAKELAND, Fla. - If Adam Everett stays healthy, he's got the shortstop role and the No. 9 spot in the Detroit Tigers lineup nailed down.
It's the "if" part that has Everett and Tigers manager Jim Leyland concerned.
"He's going to be our everyday shortstop if he stays healthy," Leyland said. "He might be the best defensive shortstop in the league, and you have to count that as part of his productivity. He's graceful at shortstop and even the ball sounds right when it goes into his glove. With some guys, you hear a big pop. With Adam Everett, you don't hear anything. It just sounds right."
Everett will replace Edgar Renteria who left Detroit as a free agent for the San Francisco Giants during the offseason. Everett signed as a free agent with the Minnesota Twins last year after spending parts of seven years with the Houston Astros.
Everett has never hit more than .273 in a season and batted .219 with Minnesota. He missed much of last season with an injured right shoulder. He missed most of 2007 with a broken right fibula.
Everett said he is 100 percent healthy and looking to get the past two years behind him.
"I feel perfectly fine," he said. "I just want to get some stability back into my game. I am looking forward more than ever to playing this season, if I can stay healthy."
Everett said despite previous injuries he plans to be aggressive. "I am not going to play scared," Everett said. "I just want to stay on the field. I am not putting any unrealistic expectations on the season, but if I stay healthy I want to be out there every day."
Everett has been doing extra work with second baseman Placido Polanco since both reported to camp this week and said he feels comfortable working with his third second baseman in three years. Leyland agrees.
"They work well together, and I have seen that already," Leyland said. "Everett isn't going to hit a lot, and there's no way he's ever going to knock in 100 runs, but that's not important. He steadies up the infield, and that's what we are looking for him to do."
Everett may be holding down the position for prospect Cale Iorg, the son of former major leaguer Garth Iorg and the nephew of Dane Iorg, another former major leaguer. Iorg won't play in Detroit anytime soon, but he is in big league camp and Leyland said he has been impressed. Veteran Ramon Santiago is the backup at short.28.04419 -81.94786