There are a couple of different ways you can look at all the Tiger injuries and how they are affecting this baseball team and this period of rebuilding.
Injuries plague every team at some point during a long regular season.
In many cases, they weaken a team, but in some cases they provide opportunities.
Injuries can be blessings, depending on the overall goals of the team. In the case of this Tiger team, you are seeing players get more opportunities to play given the injuries, and some are taking advantage.
Who am I talking about? Well, we can start with JaCoby Jones (hurt himself after Wednesday afternoon’s game), whose talents have been on display while he fills in for Leonys Martin, who currently sits on the 10-day DL. Jones has been so good; it will be hard to keep him out of the lineup even after the return of some of the injured regulars.
Niko Goodrum couldn’t have anticipated this much playing time when the season began. He was filling the role vacated by Andrew Romine. But he has filled in all over and has provided much-need power from the utility position.
John Hicks has taken advantage of Miggy’s absence, contributing to some big Tiger victories already this season, while holding down the fort at first base. Hicks has shown his ability to hit for power and also play a little small ball, winning a game with a surprise walk-off bunt single.
Hicks as a first baseman, who had been slated as the backup catcher when the season started, has now necessitated a move at that position as well. His time at first has forced the Tigers to bring up a third catcher, where Grayson Greiner has filled in quite admirably, not blinded at all by the bright lights of the big leagues. His opportunity for experience is invaluable and wouldn’t be realized this soon without the injury plague.
Unfortunately, or fortunately, whichever way you choose to look at it, injuries have also spread to the bullpen, where Alex Wilson, who carries a heavy load in the pen, is also on the DL, which has opened doors for a number of pitchers heading back and forth from Toledo. Once again, a pitchers like Zac Reininger, who may not have gotten a chance to audition with the big club until say, September, is getting an opportunity now.
Are all these guys ready to play in the big leagues? Of course not! Not many expected to see Dawel Lugo in Detroit this season, but here he is, being added to the squad as a backup infielder in the wake of an injury to Nick Castellanos.
Mikie Mahtook, who started the season so miserably that he was sent to Toledo for a little seasoning, found his way back up here when the Tigers needed another outfielder. His first response was that he’s never leaving. He’s never going back to Toledo. I guess we will see about that, when some of these guys get healthy and are ready to return to the lineup.
Lastly, let’s not forget Pete Kozma, an under-the-radar free agent signing in the off-season, who has come up from Toledo to fill a void and has played very well offensively and defensively.
So just when you think things could really fall apart when guys are dropping like flies, they could be blessings in disguise.
No one wants anyone to get hurt, but when your team does get hit with the injury bug, it’s good to know you have people who are hungry and ready to put their own stamp on the team.
What we are learning with this Tiger team is that the Ron Gardenhire factor is good for everyone. He’s been the reason this team is competing more than we thought possible. So injuries aside, it can only help these guys, who are benefitting from rubbing elbows with the new Tiger manager.
And isn’t that really the most important thing? Regardless of the success that these players have up here, any amount of time they get to talk with Gardy is great for them.
It will be something they can take back with them should they be sent back down to the minors. It’s not just all about playing, it’s the opportunity to gather and absorb information from an experienced manager who has seen it all in this game.
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