Detroit second baseman Ian Kinsler finally returned to the lineup after a nagging hamstring injury kept him out for five games. Right fielder JD Martinez is expected to make his season debut Friday after he suffered a Lisfranc sprain in his right foot during spring training. Brad Ausmus was supposed to have his first fully healthy lineup of the season, something he almost never had last year. Then one swing ruined it.
Right fielder Jim Adduci hurt his oblique during batting practice before Thursday’s game against the Los Angeles Angels. He’s now on the disabled list. With Martinez returning to the lineup, Adduci was expected to move to center field, where he played for two years in the Korean League. Tigers fans were supposed to finally get a glimpse at what this team’s potential could be in perhaps the last season before a rebuild. That glimpse will have to wait now.
Coming into Friday’s game with the Angels, Detroit is 17-16. Nicholas Castellanos is the only player to appear in every game so far, and we’re not even halfway through May. This year was supposed to be different. The Tigers would be finally healthy and show their true potential, give it one last run at a World Series before general manager Al Avila breaks up the band. But they’re having the exact same issues as last season, so why should we expect a different result?
On the surface, losing a right fielder who’s a career minor leaguer shouldn’t be a big blow to the Tigers. But Adduci has been a revelation for the team, posting an impressive .318/.338/.500 line in 13 games since being called up from triple-A Toledo. The combination of Tyler Collins, Mikie Mahtook and JaCoby Jones, three guys who were supposed to lock down center and right field for the time being, have hit a paltry .202. Jones was so bad at the plate that the Tigers decided to keep him in Toledo after he came off the disabled list.
In all, five starters have hit the disabled list at some point this season, make it six now with Adduci. It’s actually a miracle that Detroit is above .500 at this point with all these injuries and weird lineups Ausmus has had to use, and that should give Tigers fans hope. If they can hang around while they deal with these injuries, they could pounce when (if) they get healthy.
Knock on wood, the pitching staff has been largely unscathed by the injury bug so far. If the starting rotation starts to get banged up, Detroit doesn’t have much of a backup plan. We could be faced with a situation where *gasp* Anibal Sanchez has to make a spot start, and you can just chalk that up for a loss right now. Things may seem depressing now, but always remember, it could be worse. Anibal Sanchez could be your starting pitcher.