Tigers may welcome Jackson back soon; CF heads out on rehab assignment Monday
DETROIT — Re-ignition, coming soon.
There’s no doubt that Austin Jackson is a catalyst for the Detroit Tigers — you have to look no further than their 23-25 record with him on the disabled list over the last two seasons to see how much they miss him.
Having spent 26 games without him this season, there might finally be hope they’ll get him back from the disabled list soon.
“We got some good news on Austin Jackson,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland acknowledged postgame Sunday.
After running the bases prior to Saturday’s game, and feeling fine Sunday, the team announced he’ll head out to a rehab assignment with Triple-A Toledo.
“We’ve been very lucky. We’ve done OK. A lot of teams have these injuries. These guys (the Indians) have an All-Star shortstop (Asdrubal Cabrera) out right now. So you can’t complain about it, whine about it. I feel very fortunate,” manager Jim Leyland said before the game, having not yet found out how Jackson felt.
“To continue hanging in like we have, without Austin at the top — he acts as a catalyst, makes us go.”
And when he’s out, they don’t go as well.
The Tigers are 19-14 when Austin Jackson starts a game this season, and 15-11 since he went on the DL. He was originally eligible to come off the DL on May 27, but the injury has lingered. The offense averaged 5.37 runs per game before Jackson’s injury, and 5.08 after.
“Well, you know what? We haven’t whined about that a bit, and we’re not going to whine now. Because every team in baseball has those issues. Everybody’s got somebody on the disabled list. You can’t sit around and feel sorry for yourself about that,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said earlier this week
“He is a catalyst for us. If you look at early in the season, he was out there on base all the time, for Torii (Hunter) and those guys. We miss him. But you can’t sit around and — we gotta win games, no matter who you’ve got on the active roster.
“Nobody feels sorry for you, nor should they.”
The plan will be to have Jackson join the Mud Hens in Rochester, and play Monday, likely at designated hitter, and Tuesday in the field, then use the Hens’ Wednesday off day to reassess before playing again on Thursday, for seven innings.
“If he needs an extra day or so, that would be OK. Or if he’s not ready, then we’ll just have to wait,” Leyland said. “If all systems are go, there’s a possibility — and I stress possibility — that he could join us in Minnesota (next weekend). But that’s a possibility. Please don’t etch that in stone.”
It’s been tough to etch anything in stone with Jackson’s hamstring injury. Leyland initially thought he would be back on time.
And the Tigers did not want to push it, and risk re-injury.
“Yeah, because you just never know. The last thing you want to do is, one day it feels really good, and get out there and try to push it, and possibly re-injure it, then we’d be back to step one,” Jackson said.
It will allow the Tigers to get people back in their proper roles.
“He’s our catalyst. He’s a guy we need in the lineup,” said Jackson’s locker-room neighbor, Don Kelly, who’s started 15 games in center field in Jackson’s absence, and will probably play less upon his return. “You’re built a certain way, you know, and when he goes down, you get other guys out of their roles. We need Austin back.”