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A sometimes-irreverent look at Detroit's Boys of Summer, the Tigers, as they try to return to the top of the American League Central.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Tigers DFA then trade Jeff Baker, call up Avisail Garcia

The Tigers just aren’t very good against left-handed pitchers.

In the hopes of fixing an issue that they’ve already patched over twice, the organization designated utility man Jeff Baker for assignment, and recalled youngster Avisail Garcia from Double-A Erie.

The 6-foot-4, 240-pound Garcia was hitting .312 with the Seawolves, and .333 against lefties. Acquired from the Cubs in a waiver trade on Aug. 5 for two players to be named later, Baker had just seven hits in 15 games, posting a .200 average with next to no power.

Later in the evening, Baker was traded to the Braves for a player to be named later.

“It’s what I talk about all the time: If you fish in a lake for two weeks, and you don’t get a bite, try a different lake,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said, noting that it’s a talented kid they’re bringing up, one of the best all-around tools guys in the organization in his opinion.

“It wasn’t Baker’s fault, because I know Baker’s a better hitter than he showed here. The track record shows that. But, for whatever reason, it wasn’t working, and we’ve got this kid that is a multi-purpose player, really — not as far as versatility position-wise, but he can run, he can throw, he’s supposed to be a terrific outfielder, he’s got power — so we’re going to try him. Why not?

“I like stuff like that. I’m kind of excited. He might come up and not do anything, he might come up and really give us a jolt. Who knows? You never know how that’s going to work out.

“But he’s a talented kid. I’m going to put him in there. Why not?”

Leyland was hoping that Garcia would make it to Comerica in time to get some swings in before Friday’s series opener against the White Sox, but even if he doesn’t get acclimated to the surroundings until Saturday, he’ll likely be in the lineup for the next two games, as Chicago starts lefties Francisco Liriano and Chris Sale.

“I’m going to play him. ... That’s what we’re bringing him for,” Leyland said, admitting he’d use the versatile youngster as a defensive replacement, if the situation dictated. “I wanna see how he looks. If he’s swinging the bat real good, who knows? If he’s hot, I might play him more.”

The move was made before the rosters expand on Saturday so that Garcia would be eligible to be on the postseason roster, should the Tigers make the playoffs. The team will still have the flexibility of adding one more player to the roster, replacing the spot held by Victor Martinez, whose spot on the 60-day disabled list can be turned into an extra spot on the postseason roster for any player brought in after Sept. 1.

Originally signed as a 16-year-old non-drafted free agent out of Venezuela, the Tigers had considered moving Garcia up at the beginning of August, but instead chose to try acquiring a veteran like Baker by way of trade.

“We thought that he’d hit better for us. It hasn’t worked for us so far. We really reached the point where we were looking for him to provide some offense against left-handed pitching and he really hasn’t provided very much. He has in the past and he may in the future but right now we’re down to 32 games in the season so we’re kind of looking at the immediacy of this,” said Tigers presdient and general manager Dave Dombrowski.

“We talked to a lot of our people about (Garcia). He’s had a very fine year. ... People felt he’s ready to come up and help us. He’s had that extra month. We actually talked about it the first of August, but he’s had the extra month of development time and he’s continued to play well. So we think he’s ready to come up and help us.”


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