March 17th, 2014
Tigers shortstop Jose Iglesias confirmed reports Monday morning that he has been diagnosed with stress fractures in both of his legs.
The diagnosis came late last week from a specialist Iglesias visited for additional opinion.
“This is small fractures in the legs,” Iglesias said. “I was able to play through it last year, but that’s not going to happen this year.”
Iglesias said he won’t know how long he’ll be out until he visits another specialist, Dr. Thomas Clanton, on Tuesday in Colorado to determine the best course of treatment. He expects to play at some point this season.
“Absolutely,” Iglesias said. “I’ll get a better idea when I see the doctor in Colorado. But for now, my goal is to get healthy, get rid of this, because the pain is really bad. I just want to get rid of it and come back 100 percent.”
Iglesias said he has been playing through pain in both shins since last Spring Training, when he was a member of the Red Sox. Not until the last few days, however, did he know how severe the issue was.
“I just felt it from the very first moment of [last] Spring Training,” Iglesias said. “I just told myself to play through it, because I never expected something like that. I just feel pain, but Stephen Drew had a concussion at the time and that was an opportunity for me to start with the team. And I was like, ‘You know what, you’ve got to play through it.’ And I did it.”
The pain was severe enough at times that he had to sit occasionally, both before and after his midseason trade to Detroit.
“Last year I played through the pain all year long,” Iglesias said. “Sometimes [Red Sox manager John] Farrell had to give me some days the same as [former Tigers manager] Jim Leyland here. He had to give me some days or take me out of the game because the pain was so bad. And I was like, ‘Man, I don’t know what to do to get rid of it.’ And I never found out until right now that it was a fracture.”
Iglesias missed time at points last year with the Tigers while dealing with shin splints, but returned in time for the postseason. He said an offseason of rest was expected to take care of the issue, but the pain returned this spring.
Iglesias hasn’t played since Feb. 26. He was originally diagnosed with stress reactions in both shins, similar to shin splints but different in severity. He has tried to work his way back, hitting in batting practice and taking ground balls in the field, but continued to feel pain while running.
The Tigers announced Sunday that Iglesias will open the season on the disabled list, but did not announce a diagnosis pending Tuesday’s report from Dr. Clanton.
After a full year of pain, Iglesias said he feels relieved simply to have a diagnosis what’s going on in his legs.
“It’s bad news for me and bad news for the team as well,” Iglesias said, “but at the end of the day, it’s good as well, because I know what’s going on now. It’s something that I’ve got to deal with, but something that will go away with time.”
The forecast is not very good for this afternoon, and it gets worse as the day goes on. The fact that the tarp was already on the field this morning probably wasn’t a good sign. Still, I would expect they’re going to wait out the forecast to see what the weather is actually like around game time.
Hernan Perez is next up at shortstop, getting the start today. Brad Ausmus invoked an 0ld Leyland phrase yesterday in describing Perez: He’s a baseball player. He likes Perez’s instincts and awareness, and he sees Perez as somebody who can handle the bat. The question will be how well he handle shortstop, which for him is a secondary spot. He was good there at Erie, though not as good as Suarez at his best. If Ausmus does decide to go with two shortstops going into the season, it’s pretty easy to see where Perez fits in.
- Rajai Davis, LF
- Torii Hunter, RF
- Miguel Cabrera, 3B
- Alex Avila, C
- Austin Jackson, CF
- Don Kelly, 3B
- Tyler Collins, DH
- Hernan Perez, SS
- Steve Lombardozzi, 2B
P: Anibal Sanchez, Ian Krol, Al Alburquerque, Blaine Hardy, Luke Putkonen
In the wee hours at Comerica Park on the night of July 30, as Dave Dombrowski put together the deal that brought them Jose Iglesias from Boston in exchange for Avisail Garcia, one of the things he mentioned was the importance of shoring up the position defensively. They had a lot more offense around the lineup at that point, but they also had a much better offensive player they were preparing to replace, and they felt Iglesias fit in with what they wanted to do long term.
“We’ve had some other people throw some names at shortstop for us that we didn’t see fitting in for us,” Dombrowski said.
As Dombrowski talked about the position Sunday morning at Space Coast Stadium, and how to fill the void left by Iglesias’ injury, that emphasis on defense was there again. They’re trying to shore up the void at shortstop, Dombrowski emphasized, not the void at the bottom of the lineup.
“I think we need to keep it in perspective,” Dombrowski said. “There’s no question [Iglesias is] a very fine player but for us, from an offensive perspective, it’s the bottom of our order. It’s not the middle of our order. I think it’s very important that whoever we have catches the ball, plays defense. That’s extremely important for us.”
They were already prepared to go into the season with Iglesias at the bottom of their lineup, producing some offense but not having to be a catalyst. With Iglesias out, that’s the void.
If they go after another shortstop, Dombrowski does not seem inclined to trade defense for offense. With a rookie third baseman still adjusting back to the corner after spending the previous season and a half in the outfield, with a team built around pitching and defense, they can’t afford to comprise fielding there.
“You have to catch the ball at shortstop to play defensively on our club,” Dombrowski said. “We have a good pitching staff, we think we’re going to score enough runs. It’s a very important part, and we think we have some guys that can do that.”
There’s a lot of question whether Eugenio Suarez will hit enough to stick as a Major League shortstop, questions that have followed Danny Worth during his career, questions that have been asked about Hernan Perez as well. Defensively, though, they think a lot of what they have. None are as good as Iglesias, none are likely as good defensively as Stephen Drew for that matter, but there’s enough talent there to try to fill the gap on defense without worrying as much about offense.
When the Tigers look around at the trade market, or if the Tigers do end up making a run at Drew, it’ll be with defense in mind. They’ll have to figure out whether Seattle’s Nick Franklin is a Major League caliber shortstop or, realistically, a second baseman/utility type, as some evaluators say. And they’ll have weigh whether the upgrade on Drew defensively is big enough to make it worth the price in contract or draft compensation. Same goes for Jimmy Rollins in any trade speculation, for that matter, unlikely as that possibility seems.
Drew would not be a major presence offensively. His recent numbers, and especially his numbers away from Fenway Park last year (.222 average, .687 OPS) make that clear. He had a very good 2013 season against right-handers (.284/.377/.498) but under .196 against lefties. If you bring him in, it’s not going to be for offense.
Again, part of the debate hinges on Iglesias’ timetable, as well as how confident they can be that his shins will finally be healthy for good when he returns. Will Carroll of Bleacher Report pointed out that the foot-and-ankle specialist Iglesias has been set up to visit Tuesday — Dr. Thomas Clanton at the Steadman Clinic in Colorado — is an expert in chronic conditions.