Results tagged ‘ Austin Jackson ’
Not much new to report on the Tigers’ rehab front. Austin Jackson took batting practice with the team again on Friday, but there was no discussion about an impending rehab assignment. I’m sure that’s frustrating for Tigers fans, but the team medical staff wants to be sure when he gets going again that he’s at minimal risk of re-injuring his left hamstring.
The choices are about to get tougher for the Tigers as far as where to send him, because all three nearby minor-league teams are going to be on the road for a good chunk of next week. The Toledo Mud Hens begin a nine-day road trip Saturday, so Jackson would be in Rochester or Syracuse with the team if he went on assignment with them next week. The Erie SeaWolves are home for the weekend, then take off for Portland (Maine) and New Hampshire. West Michigan is home through Monday, then will be in Midland for three games against the Great Lakes Loons.
As for Octavio Dotel (remember him?), he still has to progress to the point where he can begin a rehab assignment. He hasn’t thrown a mound session in a couple days, but is still pain-free and working out in Lakeland according to head athletic trainer Kevin Rand. Dotel has missed a month and a half now with right elbow inflammation.
It’s a formality, but still worth noting that the seven Tigers eligible for arbitration all filed on Tuesday. The list includes three members of rotation (Doug Fister, Max Scherzer, Rick Porcello), two members of the starting lineup (Alex Avila, Austin Jackson), lefty Phil Coke and outfielder Brennan Boesch.
Basically, what it means is that none of them have apparently reached deals yet to avoid arbitration. There’s still plenty of time for that, but the next big milepost in the process will come on Friday, when they’ll exchange arbitration figures with the team. That’s usually the step that gets both sides moving towards a deal, because it provides a range to use to find a middle ground. From there, the two sides have until at least Feb. 4 to negotiate before hearings begin taking place.
The Tigers have not had to go to an arbitration ruling since Dave Dombrowski took over as GM in 2002. They’ve come close a couple times, but usually they settle soon after the two sides exchange numbers.
Torii Hunter’s play as a Minnesota Twins outfielder early in his career earned him the title as a Tiger killer around these parts. After all these years, it’s now realistic for Detroit fans to consider the possibility of Hunter becoming a Tiger.
It might not take long to figure out, one way or the other.
The Tigers are interested in Hunter, as reported earlier Monday by CBSSports.com’s Danny Knobler, and as has been expected since team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski laid out their needs for a corner outfielder two weeks ago. Between Detroit’s season-long struggles against left-handed pitching, its desire to become more athletic, its lack of a proven second hitter between Austin Jackson and Miguel Cabrera, and Delmon Young’s departure as a free agent taking away one of Detroit’s key right-handed hitters, the Tigers’ needs fit Hunter’s strengths.
Just as encouraging, there are signs the interest is mutual, and strong. Whether the Tigers should be considered the front-runners for Hunter, as MLB Network Radio’s Jim Bowden put it, is a matter of perception, one that could change if another of his suitors (Knobler mentioned Texas, while the Rays, Phillies and Red Sox have also been mentioned in reports for possible one-year offers) steps up in the coming days. But signs point towards a logical match between Hunter and Detroit.
Hunter, moreover, sounded like he already has a team or teams in mind.
“It’s going to be quick,” Hunter told MLB Network’s Hot Stove morning show with Harold Reynolds. “I’m not going to wait it out. I know who I want to play for.”
Hunter didn’t mention which teams, but he said he’s looking to win, not simply get paid.
“Everybody knows I want to win,” Hunter told MLB Network, “so whatever team’s out there that wants to win and can use me and let me be a part of it, that’s who I want to be playing with.”
Hunter just finished a five-year, $90 million contract with the Angels. He has plenty of money, and he has a son who just committed to a football scholarship at Notre Dame.
That said, it’s expected to take a multi-year deal to sign Hunter, a fact which impacts his market at age 37. If he were to settle on a one-year deal, his field expands.
It leaves the Tigers with an intriguing decision. Detroit has two highly regarded, right-handed hitting outfield prospects with postseason hero Avisail Garcia and Futures Game MVP Nick Castellanos. Both are expected to have a chance to compete for a job in Spring Training, possibly a timeshare with Andy Dirks or Brennan Boesch in one corner outfield spot.
The other corner spot is open, and that’s where Hunter fits in. Add in Hunter’s clubhouse presence and track record of working with young outfielders — Mike Trout credited Hunter’s help as an impact on him during his Rookie of the Year interview Monday night on MLB Network — and he’s one potential signing that could improve two spots, not to mention his potential impact on center fielder Austin Jackson.
However, a two-year deal for Hunter likely would mean a longer wait for Castellanos or Garcia. It wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world, an extra year or two of development, but it’s something the win-now Tigers have to weigh.
Miguel Cabrera doesn’t look for many pitches to pull, and he says that was the case with his at-bat against Indians closer Chris Perez. Yet all four of his hits off Perez in eight career meetings have gone to left field, including the walkoff home run that completed a five-run 10th inning for a 10-8 win Sunday afternoon at Comerica Park.
“I was looking for one pitch to drive the other way, try to hit it hard to the gap,” Cabrera said. “But he fell behind in the count, 3-1, so I was saying stay aggressive and try to hit it hard.”
Asked if he thought the ball was headed out, Cabrera said, “Oh, it was a little scary. It was high. I was not sure it was getting out, but I’m glad it went out.”
Other quotes from the win …
Austin Jackson on Chris Perez: “We haven’t really had too much success off of him. But that just shows what type of team we have. We kept battling even though we were down. Miggy’s been coming up with the clutch hits all year. That was incredible.”
Infante on his hit: “I feel bad because when Jackson made the triple [in the ninth], I had the opportunity for a walkoff and I don’t make contact in that situation. It didn’t work out. But the team was never down all game. I had another situation, and in that situation I wanted to make contact. [Perez] threw me a slider and I made contact to center field. That’s why I feel good. I made a base hit in that situation to tie the game.”
Infante on the win: “Oh, wow. I think that’s the best win I’ve ever seen. With two outs, a good pitcher, that’s the best win I’ve seen.”
Perez on the loss: “That’s what makes this so much worse, the fight that our hitters showed. Obviously, everybody knows we’re playing bad ball and this has been a terrible road trip. But to keep coming back, adding one on, and keep coming back, adding one on, put three up in extra innings, and then watch me [give] it away, it just sucks.”
Austin Jackson’s on his way to Cincinnati after two rehab games up the road for Triple-A Toledo. The Tigers, as expected, activated their center fielder from the 15-day disabled list Saturday morning. But they had more moves in store.
All-Star shortstop Jhonny Peralta, whose wife has been expecting with their first child, has been placed on paternity leave so that he can join her at their home in Cleveland. With just two infielders on the 40-man roster who aren’t with the big club already — and just-demoted and currently injured Ryan Raburn being the other one — the Tigers recalled second-base prospect Hernan Perez from Class A Lakeland.
The 20-year-old Perez is batting .252 (53-for-210) with two home runs, 53 RBIs and 11 stolen bases for the Flying Tigers. One would expect that he’ll be on the bench in an as-needed role while Ramon Santiago and Danny Worth handle the middle infield spots.
That said, if Perez does get into a game, he’ll become the 40th person to play for the Tigers this season.
UPDATE: To make room for Jackson, the Tigers have optioned Jose Ortega back to Toledo. That seems to be more of a statement about getting by with Justin Verlander on the mound Saturday than it is about Octavio Dotel being ready to return. The available relievers for sure are Valverde, Benoit, Below, Marte and Villarreal.
Austin Jackson was scheduled to get three at-bats Thursday night for Triple-A Toledo in the first game of his minor-league rehab assignment, but he ended up playing a full game. He got an extra at-bat out of it, but he didn’t get a hit, mainly because White Sox farmhand Terry Doyle nearly no-hit the Hens. He also got three extra innings in center field out of it and made three putouts, plus tracking a few hits off Andy Oliver, who actually had a pretty decent start.
The plan still calls for Jackson to get a full game in center field tonight, the final game of the homestand in Toledo. The Mud Hens are scheduled to go on the road to Durham after that, so that’s a big sign pointing towards Jackson rejoining the Tigers on Saturday, though he could conceivably head over to Erie for an extra rehab game Saturday night if he needs it.
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.
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.
Though the Tigers offense broke out of its funk a little bit in Tuesday’s 7-4 loss, it didn’t come from Austin Jackson, who went 0-for-4 with a walk. He didn’t strike out, and he made contact in two-strike counts, but he fell to 2-for-21 for the homestand and 2-for-29 over the last eight days.
He has played every inning of every game so far this season, but manager Jim Leyland said after Tuesday’s game that he might give Jackson the game off Wednesday and start Don Kelly in center for a game.
Kelly started at third and first base over the weekend, and in left field last Thursday. He has been a late-inning substitute in right field four times. He hasn’t started in center field since last May 5, but with Andy Dirks coming off a left hamstring injury, he’s the best option for a spot start the Tigers have.
For what it’s worth, Jackson is 3-for-10 with a double for his career off M’s starter Felix Hernandez. Kelly is 0-for-3 against him.
Justin Verlander told his followers on Twitter he was playing a bad round of golf when he got the call on Prince Fielder. His game didn’t get much better, but his day did.
“The Prince news turned my day around! Still played bad, but who cares,” Verlander tweeted. “Really excited about 2012, especially with the new addition.”
He wasn’t the only Tiger looking at the 2012 season with a little brighter outlook, once the sense of shock over Fielder’s signing tapered off.
“I had just got done working out, hitting, and a few of my friends texted me,” superutilityman Don Kelly said. “I seriously thought they were joking. I got online and checked it out and it was all over MLB.com and whatever.”
Austin Jackson, who’s now set to be leading off for a more formidable Tigers lineup, had the same reaction when his phone started going off while he was sitting at home. Shock gave way to mere amazement, then gave way to the thought of a lineup with two of the most formidable all-around hitters in baseball.
“It’s crazy to think about him and Cabrera hitting next to each other in the lineup,” Jackson said. ‘You do those type of things on MLB2K or something. You never really see two hitters like that get a chance to hit on the same team.
“It’s going to be a very interesting season. I think everybody’s pumped up to get going.”
The news that the Tigers had signed Fielder to a nine-year, $214 million contract sent shock waves around baseball, but it sent excitement around Detroit. Tigers players were no different. Some likely realized it was a possibility, but most didn’t know at all.
“No,” Kelly said. “I mean, everybody was under the impression that it wasn’t a real good fit from what Prince was looking for and what the Tigers were looking to do. But obviously, it ended up [working out].”
Jackson compared it to a holiday gift.
“To be honest with you, I thought it was a long shot,” he said. “I think myself and a lot of other people were probably putting it on a wish list. You think about things like that. You think about what a guy like him could contribute to this team, but you always think those things are long shots. When it actually happened, it was like, ‘All right, I can see this team is really serious about moving in the right direction.”
Miguel Cabrera, the man Fielder is expected to move out from first base, had an idea it was a possibility. He told Venezuelan reporter Marfa Mata that the Tigers had approached him during last week’s winter caravan to let him know it was a possibility and to see how he felt about it, including the possibility of changing positions.
Not only was Cabrera on board, he was excited.
“Some people forget that this is my [old] position, third base,” Mata quotes Cabrera, translated through Google. “I want a better team.”
So do most of the Tigers, even those whose roles might be impacted. Kelly was looking at a potential platoon role at third base going into the season, the kind of set role he hasn’t had in the big leagues. If Cabrera moves to third, there’s a good chance that changes.
That wasn’t among Kelly’s chief concerns Tuesday night.
“Looking at it, when you have a team and you can add a guy like Prince Fielder to that team, your team’s obviously going to be better,” he said.
Even Tigers who haven’t made it to Detroit yet were looking forward to the possibility. Top pitching prospect Jacob Turner was heading into the season looking to compete for the fifth spot in the Tigers rotation. His run support picture now looks much different. He retweeted the news almost as soon as it hit Twitter.
Fellow Tigers pitching prospect Drew Smyly, who’s expected to compete for the same rotation spot, learned about his new teammate soon afterwards.
“That’s one hell of an offense,” he tweeted.