By: Kurt Snyder
Well, it looks like the Tigers will be tested once again. They passed the first by putting themselves solidly in the division race during a time when they were without key pillars from their rotation and their lineup. They did it despite long-term injuries to Jordan Zimmermann and JD Martinez; no small feat considering the contributions we expect from them.
But don’t look now because challenge #2 is on its way. The Tigers have now begun a second wave of injuries, with this one even more challenging to endure than the last.
Zimmermann, loving the DL so much, has decided to do it all over again, is joined by Mike Pelfrey with the back issue, Nick Castellanos with the broken hand and Cameron Maybin with the sprained thumb; all on the DL at the same time.
But of all the guys on that injured list, I think it’s Cameron Maybin who will be missed the most and who needs to return the soonest.
Make no mistake, Zimmermann and Castellanos are huge losses. And Mike Pelfrey is important to our pitching depth whether you like it or not. But Cam Maybin is the catalyst on this baseball team. And we can only hope his return is sooner rather than later.
He is completely responsible for bringing this team back from the dead. You need enthusiasm? He brings it. You need fire? He provides it. You need someone to bring the team together and form an all-important bond? Well, that’s what he does and has done.
With Maybin getting so much credit for the Tigers’ resurgence, it is hard to believe they can continue to win consistently without him. His intensity is so contagious.
Hopefully they have learned a lot from him, because it’s a different story when one of your leaders is spending his time in the dugout and not on the field. Anyone who provides the kind of spark that he does can’t leave the lineup without some ramifications.
It’s an exasperating situation because his contributions have meant so much to the recovery and return to the division race.
But there is one cold, hard fact beyond all the praise. Injuries have effected just about every season he has played, if not all of them. And because of that, you take a risk when you acquire Cameron Maybin. All his skills aside, his career has been littered with injuries.
Sadly, it’s just who he is. It’s been a part of him; the negative end of his legacy. If he had a season free of injury in his career, please tell me when it was. If he has had one, it was a long time ago. And it’s really a shame. Because he’s the kind of player any team would want. But more than likely, most would think twice given the constant fear of injury.
But don’t worry. It’s not my intent to deliver a message declaring that the sky is falling without Maybin in the lineup. He has planted some really important seeds. You already had the intensity that Ian Kinsler provides so no issue there. But you are now seeing more from Iglesias, who ironically continues to see time in that number 2 slot vacated by Maybin. And the outfielders have continued the “after victory hug” that Cam began. A very, very good sign.
Prior to July, the Tigers were up against it, about to run into a schedule that would surely bury them before the trade deadline. But they passed the test. They came out alive. But this latest challenge to stay in the race amidst the long list of injuries, dwarfs what they had to work through in July. They are walking wounded.
So the challenge will be to further bond together in honor of the guy responsible for it in the first place. Will this be the most defining point of the season? Yeah, it has a real shot.