May 16th, 2012

Jackson leaves with mild abdominal strain

The Tigers have gotten an impressive start at the plate from third-year leadoff man Austin Jackson, but they now have to wonder if their offense can get going without him. Jackson left Wednesday’s game against the Twins after four innings after suffering a mild abdominal strain on a swing.

Jackson is listed as day-to-day.

“It was on the swing,” he said. “I think it was something that I was out front [on the swing] and probably was in a position where I stretched it out a little bit, the abdominal.”

Rand accompanied Jackson back into the dugout and down the stairs to the clubhouse as Don Kelly took over in center field to begin the fifth inning. Leyland said he wanted to think about his lineup before deciding who would lead off Thursday. If Jackson’s out, then the Tigers will be down to 11 position players thanks to the roster move that brought up Brayan Villarreal and optioned out Danny Worth.

Jackson didn’t rule out playing Thursday afternoon, but didn’t sound optimistic.

“Hopefully it won’t be anything where I have to go on the disabled list,” Jackson said. “I think we’ll see how it feels tomorrow and just go day-by-day, just doing the necessary treatment. … It’s going to be something where I have to get here early and do some treatment on it and see how it feels after that.”

Any loss of Jackson is a huge concern for the Tigers. While Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder are the star hitters in the lineup, Jackson has been the catalyst from the leadoff spot so far this year. The 25-year-old entered Wednesday ranked sixth in the American League with a .323 batting average and .409 on-base percentage, numbers he built on with singles in each of his first two at-bats Wednesday night.

Jackson also ranked fourth among AL hitters with 27 runs scored and ninth with 20 walks.

Jackson’s three-run homer Tuesday in Chicago completed an eight-run sixth-inning comeback against the White Sox, sending the Tigers on their way to a critical 10-8 win.

Valverde day-to-day with lower back strain

Just got back from the Tigers clubhouse, where closer Jose Valverde is likely out for the next couple days after straining his lower back against the White Sox on Tuesday.

Valverde said he underwent tests on Tuesday, and the results came back fine. Now, he said, it’s a day-by-day situation.

“I’ll take a couple days and be ready for Pittsburgh,” Valverde said.

Valverde said the back wasn’t bothering him while he was warming up in the bullpen. The first time he felt it was the second pitch he threw to Adam Dunn. He pitched to three more batters after that before he winced on a 2-1 pitch to Alex Rios.

In the meantime, manager Jim Leyland said Joaquin Benoit will “probably be” the closer. The exception would be if Benoit has thrown a couple more days or the matchups beg for somebody else, such as left-hander Phil Coke.

Wednesday: Tigers vs. Twins

Ramon Santiago, 6-for-21 lifetime off Twins starter Nick Blackburn, gets the start at short, which has happened a few times lately as a way to keep him fresh while Ryan Raburn and Danny Worth get most of the starts at second base. Jhonny Peralta is 5-for-26 off Blackburn.

“The other thing,” manager Jim Leyland said during pregame, “is we have to try to get Santiago going a little bit, too.”

Santiago is batting .154 (8-for-52) this season with a double, triple and five RBIs.

The Twins, meanwhile, have activated Justin Morneau from the disabled list (sore left wrist) have him in the lineup at first base. Ryan Doumit is catching, with Joe Mauer at DH.

Denard Span was scratched with right hamstring tightness. Erik Komatsu takes his place.

TIGERS

  1. Austin Jackson, CF
  2. Andy Dirks, LF
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 3B
  4. Prince Fielder, 1B
  5. Delmon Young, DH
  6. Alex Avila, C
  7. Ryan Raburn, 2B
  8. Brennan Boesch, RF
  9. Ramon Santiago, SS

P: Rick Porcello

TWINS

  1. Denard Span Erik Komatsu, CF
  2. Brian Dozier, SS
  3. Joe Mauer, DH
  4. Josh Willingham, LF
  5. Justin Morneau, 1B
  6. Ryan Doumit, C
  7. Trevor Plouffe, RF
  8. Alexi Casilla, 2B
  9. Jamey Carroll, 3B

P: Nick Blackburn

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