First Pitch: Jackson to DL; Garcia called up
MAY 13, 2013 1:06p ET
DETROIT – Detroit Tigers center fielder Austin Jackson couldn’t pinpoint the game or even the series when he strained his left hamstring. But after going 3-for-23 and batting .130 in his last five games, it became clear that playing through it wasn’t working.
“I don’t ever want to say I’m injured,” said Jackson, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to Sunday. “But the reality is that I am.”
Avisail Garcia, a top-prospect outfielder who impressed the Tigers while on the roster last September and in the postseason, was recalled from Toledo to take his roster spot. Tigers manager Jim Leyland started Don Kelly in center on Monday against the Houston Astros, but said Garcia would usually start in center against left-handed pitchers.
Jackson, despite being hampered recently, still leads the American League with 33 runs scored. He’s batting .272, but had been at .393 on April 16. He has seven doubles, one triple, two homers and 11 RBIs.
“We thought it was better to lose two weeks than to all of a sudden be lost for six weeks,” said Tigers head athletic trainer Kevin Rand. Jackson had an MRI that revealed a grade-one strain – which is the lowest of three grades.
“He’s a guy who makes his living with his speed and it got to a point where he couldn’t go full,” Rand continued. “The goal is to have him ready when his 15 days is up. It will be rest, rehab and strengthening.”
Jackson said Monday the recent “cold weather didn’t help,” and said the injury was “confusing” because he had both good and bad days while it lingered over the last two weeks.
“It was frustrating because I’d think I was over it,” said Jackson, who admitted that there were some balls he normally reached in the outfield that he could not catch. He said he wasn’t sure when he would be able to return because he’d never had a hamstring injury like this one.
Jackson has spent only two weeks on the disabled list in his previous three seasons in the majors. He had an abdominal strain early last season.
Andy Dirks was leading off Monday instead of Jackson, but Leyland said who fills that spot will vary. He added that the one thing for certain was leaving Torii Hunter – a Gold Glove winner in center – at his post in right field.
“(Garcia) will play a lot in center,” said Leyland, adding that he wanted to give outfield coach Tom Brookens time to work with him before starting him in center. “He can run and throw and is a nice player. If he hits, he’s going to be a real good major league player.”
Garcia, 21, batted .319 last September with the Tigers, and batted .455 in the ALCS against the New York Yankees. He injured his right heel in spring training, and began the season on the disabled list before being sent to Lakeland and then Toledo. Garcia batted .432 (16-for-37) with one homer and four RBIs for the Mud Hens, but struck out 10 times.
“I’m pretty excited to be back in Detroit with these guys,” Garcia said. “…I feel better because I have my timing back.”
BULLPEN UPDATE: Leyland said left-hander Darin Downs, who pitched Saturday and Sunday, was unavailable Monday. Leyland added that he also would prefer not using Joaquin Benoit, but will if the situation dictates it. Closer Jose Valverde is available after throwing 29 pitches Sunday and having a blown save.
+ SHOW COMMENTS +