Austin Jackson to DL, Avisail Garcia called up

What was originally hoped to be a day off for Austin Jackson is going to last at least the next couple weeks. The Tigers placed their leadoff man and defensive centerpiece on the 15-day disabled list with a pulled right left hamstring.

The move comes after Jackson sat out Sunday’s game against Cleveland. It was his second game off in just over a week, but unlike last time, he did not enter the game late as a defensive replacement, not even with a one-run lead in the ninth inning. Nor did he pinch-hit once the Tigers fell behind in the 10th.

That was the first sign of a serious issue.

“He can go,” Leyland said before the game, “but it’s hard for him to really burn into that extra gear. So I’m just giving him a day off for precautionary reasons.”

Jackson’s loss creates a major void atop Detroit’s order, though his hamstring might have been wearing on him lately. He was among the league’s leading hitters through the 2 1/2 weeks, batting .393 (24-for-61) before falling into an 0-for-26 slump at the end of the Tigers’ West Coast trip last month. He’s batting .231 (9-for-39) with eight runs scored, three doubles and 12 strikeouts so far in May.

Don Kelly started in center for the two games Jackson was on the bench. With Jackson out for a longer stretch, though, the Tigers appear to have options. Avisail Garcia’s arrival from Triple-A Toledo opens up a few of them.

Andy Dirks, who batted leadoff when Jackson didn’t play, has experience in center and could take over the role for a spell. Garcia can play center, too, having started 44 games there last summer at Double-A Erie. Garcia’s more natural role, however, is in the corners.

Torii Hunter, of course, was a Gold Glove center fielder for a decade with the Twins and Angels. However, the 37-year-old has played only one game in center since 2011.

Whatever the Tigers decide, Garcia has the potential to bring an offensive infusion. After opening the season on the disabled list with a severely bruised right heel that cost him over a month, Garcia was optioned to Triple-A Toledo at the end of April and immediately hit up a storm for the Mud Hens. He’s 16-for-37 (.432) over eight games with a double, home run and four RBIs.

Garcia, who turns 22 years old next month, rejoins the Tigers in the regular season for his first time since last September, when he played an underrated role to Detroit’s late-season charge to the AL Central title. He batted 15-for-47 (.319) down the stretch in the regular season with three RBIs, then went 6-for-23 with a double and four RBIs in the Tigers’ postseason run to the World Series.

He came to Spring Training with a chance to compete for a spot on Detroit’s Opening Day roster, but was going to have to win a regular role in the outfield to do so, according to team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski. Those chances grew longer well before he bruised his heel lunging for first base on an infield grounder in a Spring Training game in mid-March.

14 Comments

More concerned with the loss to the offense than defense. AJ’s success drives the tigers offense. What date is the DL move retroactive back to?
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With that said, IMO JL is better at overcoming these sorts of issues than he is in other areas of managing the team.

I think May 12th. Just read it on facebook.

Whatever yesterday’s date is, because he played on Saturday.
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This is disconcerting.

[impact begins to set in] yeah this is bad to very bad news. Either Victor is going to need to step up in a big way (start getting lucky instead of unlucky) – or our bullpen is going to have to step up in a big way….for this loss not to drop us from playing .571 ball.

no comment.

Best of luck to Avisail. Good on the Tigers for not pushing Austin.
NC probably very disappointed. Especially if they move Dirks to CF

Disagree Evan, I think defensively it hurts just as much, AJax is that good. Best case scenarios I believe are moving Hunter to CF and playing Garcia in RF. Offensively, I would put Infante as leadoff hitter until AJax returns.
Infante 2B
Hunter CF
Miggy 3B
Fielder 1B
VMart DH
Peralta SS
Dirk/ Tui LF
Avila/ Pena C
Garcia RF

and yes, Pena needs to play more. All he has done is hit the ball hard.

I feel it’s going to be hard to quantify if he is more valuable to the offense or defense. But I think you are onto something in batting Omar leadoff.

I think Omar can handle your scenario but I guess you have to be cognizant of putting undo pressure on him too. If it doesn’t work well then JL needs to recognize it quickly and not create another problem. Again, I feel Omar is quite capable of the transition to leadoff.
Plugging in Dirks to CF and simultaneously assigning him leadoff duties is not very creative IMO. Not saying it wouldn’t work—just that it’s not very creative!!!

and don’t forget, dirks doesn’t play every day – so dirks in CF is only a “most of the time” solution, anyhow.

I was expecting Garcia to be called up but not to replace Jackson. I still see him as the MVP for the team.
Garcia could play CF.Hunter numbers at CF were bad in his last time there. . Richard saw him, so he can tell us if the eyes test confirm or not the numbers

Garcia had only one Xbase at AAA . He is not your usual lead-off but has the contact and the speed

Two Xbases

Garcia or Dirks can handle centerfield. Torii will stay in right. He does not have the range he had in his gold glove days.

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