Faced with the likelihood that shortstop Jose Iglesias won't play this season, the Detroit Tigers traded for a second shortstop in four days Monday, acquiring veteran Alex Gonzalez from the Baltimore Orioles for utilityman Steve Lombardozzi.
Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski said the right-hand hitting Gonzalez could get the bulk of the playing time, sharing the position with the switch-hitting Romine with Iglesias out of the lineup. The Tigers announced last week that Iglesias would miss four to six months with stress fractures in both shins and is unlikely to play this season.
"I'm not looking at 150 games,'' Dombrowski said. "He's an older guy. But we do think he can be a key guy for us.''
Gonzalez, 37, had been a utilityman with the Milwaukee Brewers the past two seasons and signed a minor league contract with Baltimore this offseason. He has a .429 batting average this spring. The last time he was a full-time starter at shortstop was in 2011 with the Atlanta Braves. That season he hit .241 with 15 home runs and 56 RBIs.
"He's always had great hands, and I can't imagine his hands have gotten any worse,'' Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "I've heard great things about him in spring training, as far as how he's moving. And I think his experience is a huge advantage.''
Gonzalez has a .246 average with six major league teams. He was the starting shortstop for the 2003 World Series champion Florida Marlins. Dombrowski was the Marlins' GM when Gonzalez came up with the organization in 1998.
Romine, 28, played in 47 games for the Angels last season and batted .259. He is considered a good defensive player and stole 15 bases in 89 minor league games last year.
He made his first appearance in a Tigers uniform Sunday, going 0-for-4 against the Marlins.
Romine made his major league debut with the Angels in 2010 and has a .250 average in 74 career games. The fifth-round draft pick in 2007 is the son of former major league outfielder Kevin Romine and the brother of New York Yankees catcher Austin Romine.
Dombrowski said his office had been busy for the past week trying to find replacement shortstops. There even was joking speculation the team might try to talk first base coach Omar Vizquel, 46, into making a comeback.
Vizquel saw Gonzalez play winter ball in Venezuela and gave the Tigers a positive scouting report.
"He's younger than Omar,'' Ausmus said with a laugh. Two years ago Vizquel was the oldest shortstop in big league history.
To make room for Lombardozzi on the 40-man roster, the Orioles designated catcher Johnny Monell for assignment.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.