Thinking injuries on a rainout day

Spring Training 012

I’ve heard a lot of people mention what I was thinking at the Winter Meetings: Jim Leyland looks younger since he retired as manager. That makes sense, but if so, then the next question is whether the reverse is true.

If Brad Ausmus starts picking up gray hairs soon, you can thank the Tigers’ injury situations for it. It’s not about Justin Verlander, who by all appearances is on track to be ready for the start of the season. It’s about the other guys.

Ausmus has a gifted young shortstop with a condition that has bothered him off and on since before he became a Tiger last July. And while Thursday was a good day for Jose Iglesias towards getting healthy, he does not yet have a timetable for a return, nor any guarantee that his shin splints will no longer nag at him from time to time.

If Iglesias has day-to-day injuries during the season, his backup is Steve Lombardozzi, who was already spending this spring getting comfortable at the position. With Iglesias’ situation uncertain, the urgency to get Lombardozzi ready to step in increases.

Meanwhile, Ausmus now has a left-field platoon that now could feature anything from Rajai Davis as a full-time left fielder to a partial platoon to a multi-player pile-up. The good news is that Davis has enough speed to add some production against right-handed hitters if he can hit the ball on the ground (he seems to alternate seasons with decent and low BABIPs against righties, and last year was a low season at just .273). The bad news is that there’s no clear-cut answer for the left-handed hitting answer to that mix, and Ausmus has at least three possible options to evaluate for the next three weeks with Don Kelly, Trevor Crowe and Ezequiel Carrera. All of them have shown serious offensive flaws over their careers, but all have something to bring over a short stretch if they can heat up.

If there’s uncertainty at both spots three weeks now, Ausmus could have some serious decisions to make with his bench: Keep Don Kelly and another left-handed hitting outfielder, likely Crowe or Carrera? If Kelly becomes a platoon outfielder in left, does that mean Crowe or Carrera make the team as a reserve? Could Lombardozzi serve as a backup outfielder, and if so, would that lead Ausmus to think about carrying Hernan Perez or Danny Worth for protection at shortstop and third? So far, Ausmus hasn’t given any indication that carrying an extra infielder is an option.

Last but not least, if nobody impresses in left field, do the Tigers move to add an outfielder, either off the waiver wire or through the trade market? Credit MLB Network Radio’s Jim Duquette and Mike Ferrin for asking that question today to Dave Dombrowski, who gave his usual trade deadline answer that they always keep tabs on the market. That usually means if they’re not scouting their options, they’re about to.

Andy Dirks, whose back injury led to this uncertainty in left, said today doctors are confident that he should be back in 12 weeks, despite the forboding sense that back surgery brings. Can the Tigers feel confident that they can find help around midseason if recovery takes longer? Can they trust that Dirks, who came in to camp with something to prove, can be effective upon his return?

A fair number of these are questions for Dombrowski. But even those trickle down to Ausmus, who might have to manage this roster through some issues very early in his managerial tenure.

9 Comments

Cruz was not the answer but they need to replace Dirks. Or they expect to go far with Jackson and aging Hunter and spare parts?
A trade? what they could give? since the cup is bare
Gambling expecting a good performance from an injured player, it worked well with Ashburn, Sizemore, Boesch, Magglio( the last extension), Guillen,

Hernán Pérez can replace iglesias. He has range and sure hands. His bat is not worse.
He was traded last season to the local team I watched him making pretty good plays. The scout for Magglio´s team was impressed

I am glad you think Perez can bat –> you know better than I do. Because I feared he could not as at the MLB level (73PAs over 2 seasons) his OPS+ is 25 and this year in ST has 3 H on 18PA with 2 SO and no BB.

He is projected to have the same numbers of Iglesias with the bat. They are cut with the same mold. None can hit

Zip for Pérez
265 .288 .349 .281 avg/OBP/slg wOBA
Iglesias.
.265 .311 .336 .286

i see three players in this category: Dirks, Alex and Iggy. All three have been plagued with injuries in the past. I would have pegged their chances of going injury free for the 2014 season at 50%, 30% and 80% (respectively). Dirks could have partially filled the “power void vs RHP”, Alex has a large impact on the pitching and Iggy has a large impact in the defense (dirks also a very good defender). Expecting multiple injury prone players to play significant roles on the club was an interesting move.
.
On another note, Tigers Yankees 7pm ST game…..not on radio or televised? Also interesting!!!

it appears the bench will be rather punchless offensively if they go with the current options in camp.

Same old same old. There wasn’t much (power) on the bench last year. I mean real power–power that is not just present but actually producing (i.e. Marcus Thames type power).
I think you need that kind of threat at the end of a game.

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