May 29th, 2012

Leyland: Jackson return “not going to be as soon as we’d hoped”

For all the attention given Jim Leyland’s remarks about Ryan Raburn’s not-so-long leash and instant replay, his closing quote that Austin Jackson might not be ready Friday really got overlooked. That outlook went from “might not” to “not going to be” in his remarks this afternoon.

While Jackson is rehabbing his abdominal strain back in Detroit, he is not doing any baseball activities yet, and he doesn’t figure to do any until the Tigers get back. Head athletic trainer Kevin Rand said they’ll re-evaluate Jackson on Friday, which is also the day he’s eligible to come off the 15-day disabled list.

Even if he looks healthy by then, however, it’s hard to see him being ready to play that night without any on-field work in the days leading up.

Thus, Leyland said of Jackson’s return, “It’s not going to be as soon as we’d hoped, obviously.”

That’s a tough break for the Tigers, who could use Jackson’s glove and bat in center and leadoff even if it means shifting Quintin Berry somewhere else. But it also means delayed the much-speculated roster decision on how to make room for Jackson if Berry’s going to stick around.

Tuesday: Tigers at Red Sox (updated)

Remember what I wrote two hours ago about Delmon Young not being in the lineup tonight? Well, disregard it. He’s in the lineup now. I hadn’t seen him in the Tigers clubhouse as of just before 5pm but he’s expected to be back in time to get in enough work to be ready. Jim Leyland had said in his pregame remarks that this was probably a trying day for him, and a good day to give him a night off, but he apparently changed his mind.

Ramon Santiago, meanwhile, starts in Ryan Raburn’s place at second after Leyland said on the radio that Raburn’s leash is “probably not very long.”

TIGERS

  1. Quintin Berry, cf
  2. Andy Dirks, lf
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 3b
  4. Prince Fielder, 1b
  5. Brennan Boesch, dh Delmon Young, dh
  6. Jhonny Peralta, ss Brennan Boesch, rf
  7. Alex Avila, c
  8. Ramon Santiago, 2b Jhonny Peralta, ss
  9. Don Kelly, rf Ramon Santiago, 2b

P: Justin Verlander

RED SOX

  1. Daniel Nava, lf
  2. Ryan Sweeney, rf
  3. Adrian Gonzalez, 1b
  4. David Ortiz, dh
  5. Kevin Youkilis, 3b
  6. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, c
  7. Mike Aviles, ss
  8. Scott Podsednik, cf
  9. Nick Punto, 2b

P: Daniel Bard

Sunday is Magglio Day at Comerica Park

Magglio Ordonez spent the last six months as a man without a team. He’s about to receive a proper retirement party from the team he helped lead into a new golden era.

The Tigers announced Tuesday that they’ll remember their longtime right fielder and postseason hero with a  Magglio Ordonez Day celebration on Sunday at Comerica Park, where the former batting champion will make his retirement officially.

It’s a proper way to remember one of the best Tigers hitters of his generation, and one of baseball’s most consistent hitters for more than a decade in his prime.

The Tigers will honor Ordonez in a ceremony prior to Sunday’s series finale against the Yankees at Comerica Park. They’ll do so at 12:40pm ET on the same field where he homered off Oakland’s Huston Street in Game 4 of the 2006 AL Championship Series to send the Tigers to the World Series, one of the biggest hits in the Tigers’ illustrious history.

Ordonez will retire with 2,156 hits amassed over a 15-year Major League career. Just under 1,000 of those hits came as a Tiger. While Ivan Rodriguez represented the landmark signing of the Tigers’ renaissance from baseball’s doormat in 2003, Ordonez helped vault them towards an American League pennant after signing a landmark seven-year contract as a free agent just before the 2005 season.

It was a risk for both parties — the Tigers gambling that Ordonez could stay healthy after experimental knee surgery, and Ordonez taking the chance that the Tigers were serious about contending. It worked beautifully on both sides.

After missing part of the 2005 season with a sports hernia, Ordonez came back with a 24-homer, 104-RBI season in 2006 that helped send the Tigers to their first postseason birth in 19 years. His walkoff home run in the ALCS  sent them to their first Fall Classic since 1984.

The next year, Ordonez became the Tigers’ first batting champion in 46 years, batting .363 with go with a league-high of 54 doubles as well as 28 home runs and 139 RBIs. He finished as the runner-up to Alex Rodriguez for AL MVP honors.

Injuries and age took their toll in the ensuing years, but Ordonez quietly saved some of his biggest hits for when the Tigers needed him most. His .439 average and 11 RBIs in September and October of 2009 provided the biggest contribution as the Tigers tried to hold onto their division lead. Then he batted .419 over the final month of last season to help lead Detroit to its first division title in 24 years.

Ordonez went 5-for-11 in the Tigers’ AL Division Series win over the Yankees, including a three-hit performance in a Game 5 upset at Yankee Stadium. He fractured his ankle for the second time in as many years in Game 1 of the ALCS at Texas.

That ended up being the last game of Ordonez’s career. He worked his way back from a second ankle surgery, but went into the season without a team. By the end of Spring Training, he said he was on the verge of retirement.

Leyland: Raburn leash “probably not very long”

Jim Leyland went on air with Mike Stone and Bill McAllister on 97.1 FM in Detroit this morning and talked about his postgame rant on the Mike Aviles call yesterday, saying among other things that the umpiring crew wasn’t going to take any argument over the call and that he isn’t in favor of a big expansion of instant replay. He also was asked about Ryan Raburn, and how long of a leash he has at second base.

That leash, Leyland said, is “probably not very long right now, to be honest with you.”

He didn’t expand on that. When asked about Quintin Berry’s hot start and how he could stick with the team after Austin Jackson’s return, however, Leyland said they’ll “put the best players on the field.”

It’s something Leyland has hinted at before. What it means, and how much time it means, at this point remains to be seen. Ramon Santiago has also struggled to a slow start, though not to the same degree, in starts at second and short. Danny Worth is 4-for-22 with seven strikeouts so far. One of them, though, could get some extended stretch here.

One more interesting note which could impact a lot of this: Leyland said the Tigers aren’t sure Jackson will be returning Friday when he’s eligible to come off the 15-day DL. As reported Monday, Jackson did not join the team in Boston because he wasn’t ready for baseball activities yet. Hard to see Jackson jumping back into the lineup without so much as batting practice in front of team medical staff.

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