October 9th, 2011

Broken ankle ends postseason for Magglio, maybe more

Magglio Ordonez quietly worked like crazy to get himself to the point where the ankle was no longer. His happiness showed after his three hits in Game 2 of the AL Division Series, when he admitted he thought about quitting before deciding to slug it out through the season. He was swinging with a little more lower body strength, even if it wasn’t what it used to be.

One apparent twist of his ankle during pregame batting practice Saturday changed everything.

“My ankle is broke,” Ordonez replied in an email Sunday afternoon.

The Tigers confirmed the same later Sunday. He re-fractured the ankle in the same spot where he had it surgically repaired late last season. His season is over.

It’s not clear whether this is the same type of fracture he had last year, a vertical break that’s supposedly a lot trickier to heal. Even if it isn’t, though, he now has a history.

Just when he was feeling more like his old self, this happens.

“When I was in such good shape, this happens to me,” Ordonez told Venezuelan journalist Aflredo Villasmil on Sunday.

The quote is translated from Spanish.

“I was in BP before the game, I twisted my foot and it started to hurt. I thought it was because of the cold and the pressure I put on it, but nothing like that. It wasn’t that.”

You hope this isn’t how his career ends, that he can come back at age 38 and do it again. But if he’s going to have to go through the same rehab process to get back to this point, he has a decision to make — not just a baseball decision, a life decision. And at age 38 come next January, he’ll be making it without a contract for 2012.

Here’s hoping for the best for Magglio.

How the Tigers replace Magglio

At this time, it’s anyone’s guess. From a roster standpoint, the pickings are few. Other than rehabbing Carlos Guillen, who will start playing in games in instructional ball on Monday, the Tigers are out of position players with Major League experience who have stayed fresh and are on the 40-man roster. Though it was originally believed that Will Rhymes was sent to Florida, he was not, and he isn’t expected to be a consideration for a call up.

They could wait and see whether Delmon Young (oblique) or even Brennan Boesch (thumb surgery) recover enough to be available for a pinch-hit or two later in the series. If they want to add a healthy outfielder, the only option left on the 40-man roster is Clete Thomas, who went home with the conclusion of the Triple-A Toledo season around Labor Day weekend. Ryan Strieby has played some outfield, as did Rhymes in Toledo, but he was a first baseman this season.

Realistically, whoever they call up will be an insurance option and nothing more. The more pertinent question is who plays right field in his place. On that, they have two options.

Don Kelly was a hero in the Division Series and provides a hot bat. But his time against left-handed pitching this year has been very limited. He’s 4-for-21 off lefties this season, and had even fewer plate appearances off southpaws last year. The Rangers have two lefties and a righty going over the next three games.

Andy Dirks hasn’t played at all this postseason, and he closed out the regular season with limited playing time. but he has more time — and more success — against lefties: 10-for-31, two home runs, nine RBIs.