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LAKELAND Willie Stargell Jersey , Fla. (AP) — In his rookie season with the Detroit Tigers, Niko Goodrum spent time at first base, .The next logical step was to try him in center field, and manager Ron Gardenhire did just that during spring training this month.“We’re just looking for places to put him. We’re going to play him everywhere,” Gardenhire said. “Except catcher. We’re not going to do that yet.”Goodrum’s bat makes him a decent asset for the Tigers, but his versatility is what really sets him apart, and there’s increasing evidence that major league teams are putting more value on his type of jack-of-all-trades skill set. More players have been moved around the diamond in recent seasons, a sign of how important the modern utility player is to the flexibility of a big league lineup.According to the play index at Baseball-Reference.com, 31 players appeared in at least one game last season at first base, second base, third base and shortstop. That’s the most of any season included in the data, going all the way back to 1908. The previous record was 29, set in 2017.A record seven players last year appeared at every defensive position except pitcher and catcher. Three of them — Enrique Hernandez, Hernan Perez and Andrew Romine — actually did pitch as well.“I think teams are recognizing that you can maximize your roster,” said Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash, whose team includes a couple of good utility players in Daniel Robertson and Joey Wendle. “The versatility is such an important use for us. We feel that we can, No. 1, keep guys in theory healthier http://www.piratesfanproshop.com/authentic-josh-bell-jersey , rested at times, and also not take away from our production in our lineup. The job is never easy but I think it certainly helps for in-game decisions.”With relievers facing so many batters nowadays — and taking up roster spots — teams often don’t have the luxury of a deep bench of capable position players. It helps to have someone who is comfortable in a lot of different spots defensively.And some modern strategies make versatility an obvious plus.“Think about it: There’s shifts now,” Gardenhire said. “You’ve got a shortstop playing on the second base side, you’ve got a second baseman playing on the shortstop side. So now, more than ever, you need those guys that can play all over the place.”A player on the roster for his glove can make himself more useful by playing a lot of positions. And a player who isn’t great defensively can make up for that a bit by being versatile. Goodrum wasn’t necessarily a defensive star last year, but he hit 16 home runs for the Tigers, and now Gardenhire has plenty of ways to put him in the lineup.“That’s how I got to the big leagues, is being able to play everything,” Goodrum said. “That’s a tough thing to do. Not everyone can play every position. You can’t take most first basemen and put them in center.”Goodrum was drafted in the second round in 2010 by the Minnesota Twins. For his first few minor league seasons, he spent far more time at shortstop than any other position, but by the time he reached Triple-A in 2017, he was moving all around. With Rochester that year, he started 41 games in right field, 35 at second base, 19 at third base and 14 in center field. He also played a bit at first base, shortstop and left field.At last, Goodrum made his major league debut at age 25 in September 2017. His saga sounds somewhat typical for a utility player who took a while to find his niche. The novelty can make for a nice story, such as when Romine played all nine positions in one game two seasons ago.But this role isn’t just for the underappreciated. Javier Baez of the Chicago Cubs, last year’s MVP runner-up in the National League Roberto Clemente Jersey , has played extensively at second, third and shortstop in his career, while also appearing briefly at first and in the outfield. When the Cubs won the title in 2016, it was Ben Zobrist who was MVP of the World Series. He’s played more than 1,000 innings in his career at both middle infield and both corner outfield positions.This year, even a former batting champ might need to show a little flexibility. DJ LeMahieu signed with the New York Yankees, joining an infield that also includes Gleyber Torres, Miguel Andujar, Troy Tulowitzki and — when he returns from Tommy John surgery — Didi Gregorius.LeMahieu, though, is 30 years old and has a career batting average just under .300. He said when he signed that he was OK playing multiple positions, and the Yankees certainly want to use him.“From what I’ve seen in his work, I think he’ll transition well and I think he’s going to be a good defender wherever we put him,” manager Aaron Boone said. “It’s really not that hard to envision (him) playing five out of six (days) even with everyone healthy and doing what they are supposed to be doing.”LeMahieu, a three-time Gold Glove winner and two-time All-Star, hasn’t played anywhere other than second base over the past four seasons with Colorado. He did get some time at other infield spots earlier in his career.“I guess it just depends on the matchup, the pitcher, how guys are doing and how guys are hitting,” LeMahieu said. “I’m sure as a manager, it’s a good place to be in http://www.piratesfanproshop.com/authentic-josh-bell-jersey , when you have that many options.” WASHINGTON (AP) — The game between the Chicago Cubs and Washington Nationals was postponed Friday night after two rain delays totaling more than four hours. It was scoreless in the top of the second inning when it was called.The teams will play a doubleheader Saturday starting at 3:05 p.m.A thunderstorm delayed the start of the game 81 minutes, but the rain had stopped when play began. Heavy rain and lightning returned with two outs and nobody on in the top of the second inning.The rain eventually stopped as midnight approached, but the game was called after a wait of 2 hours, 55 minutes.The rain spoiled the return of Washington Nationals pitcher Joe Ross, who was making his first major league start since undergoing Tommy John surgery in July of 2017. The 25-year-old Ross, whose fastball reached 97 mph, allowed a hit, hit a batter and had a strikeout.Jon Lester tossed a scoreless first inning for Chicago, giving up one hit.Earlier in the day, Cubs manager Joe Maddon was hopeful the teams would get the game in.“We want to play. We don’t want rainouts,” Maddon said. “It’s supposed to rain here for three days. We can plow through. We’ve done that already this year so many times.”“We’d rather plow through this than a doubleheader and a makeup game. We’re going through 23 in a row, so we need to play this,” he said.The NL Central-leading Cubs are 12-5 in the first 17 games of 23 games in 23 days without a day off.Washington has lost three straight games and is 2-5 on their 10-game homestand against NL Central teams.TRAINER’S ROOMCubs: RF Ben Zobrist was scratched from the lineup due to neck stiffness.Nationals: LHP Sean Doolittle (stress reaction, left foot) was reinstated from the disabled list. The Nationals closer missed 54 games. . RHP Jeremy Hellickson (right wrist sprain) threw a 50-pitch simulated game and will throw a bullpen session Sunday.UP NEXTCubs LHP Cole Hamels (4-0, 1.00 with Chicago) and RHP Max Scherzer (16-6, 2.28) were scheduled to duel for the second time in a month in Saturday night’s game. Neither got a decision on Aug. 12 when David Bote’s grand slam off Ryan Madson in the bottom of the ninth won it for Chicago 4-3. Hamels is 16-9 with a 2.63 ERA in 36 career starts versus Washington, while Scherzer is 3-1, 2.45 in seven starts against the Cubs.