DETROIT — The Detroit Tigers are losing players so quickly that they might have to cancel Magglio Ordonez’s retirement ceremony on Sunday and put him on the roster instead.
They went into Friday’s game against the New York Yankees with a patchwork lineup and a shortened bench, then lost yet another player. This time, it was temporary designated hitter Gerald Laird, who tweaked his right hamstring while beating out an infield single.
Laird was called safe after a head-first slide into the bag — replays showed he was out — but he said that the dive hadn’t been part of his plan.
“I was about two steps from the bag when I felt the tweak,” he said. “I don’t like diving — it is too easy to get stepped on or to jam something into the bag — but I didn’t want to keep running all out and pull it even worse.”
Laird thought the injury might have come from being the DH during a chilly game.
“It’s a cold night, and you are sitting there just watching most of the time,” he said. “Then you have to go in and there’s a play like that and you are trying to leg it out.”
Laird, 32, has had hamstring problems before and doesn’t think this is a serious injury. He also knows that, with Austin Jackson still disabled by his abdominal strain and Andy Dirks unable to play with a sore Achilles’ tendon, Laird might not get the chance to come back that quickly.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen because I’ve never been in a situation like this in my career,” Laird said. “Guys just keep falling and falling, and I know we can’t keep playing shorthanded.
“I think it will probably be just a couple days — I hope I could come back on Tuesday — but I know we need to get healthy bodies, so I don’t know what decision they will make.”
The situation is so bad that the Tigers apparently had to cancel a roster move they had already decided to make. Toledo outfielder Matt Young was taken out of Friday’s game in the early innings and received hugs from his teammates in the dugout. The Mud Hens even confirmed to local media that Young was being called up to Detroit, but it didn’t end up happening.
“Sometimes you have to put things on hold,” Leyland said when asked about Young’s status.
Leyland had already delayed his postgame interview for a lengthy meeting with Dave Dombrowski, Al Avila and members of the medical staff.
The move was expected to put Dirks going on the disabled list with Young replacing him on the 25-man roster. Young also needed to be added to the 40-man roster, which could have been done by moving Daniel Schlereth to the 60-day disabled list.
With Laird now a question mark, the Tigers might have to decide whether he or Dirks will be ready sooner. Jackson is also eligible to come off the disabled list, but he hasn’t made as much progress as the team had hoped.
“I would say that, off the top of my head, Dirks would be ready sooner than Jackson,” Leyland said. “I can’t swear to that.”
The problem goes deeper than Laird, Jackson and Dirks, though. Casey Crosby was Friday’s starting pitcher because of Doug Fister’s injured side, and Leyland has had to juggle his roster because of the ineptitude of Ryan Raburn, who’s now in Toledo, and Brandon Inge, who’s now with the Oakland Athletics.
The Tigers were so desperate for a right-handed bat to face CC Sabathia on Friday that they had to call up a third catcher, Omir Santos.
“We’ve had to battle a lot of things this year,” Leyland said. “It’s not an excuse, but I never thought that on June 1 we would be pitching Casey Crosby and catching Omir Santos.
“No disrespect to them, but that wasn’t the plan.”
SPEED NOT POWER
Quintin Berry made his Comerica Park debut a memorable one, hitting a triple in his first at-bat and doubling in the next one. He also singled in the ninth inning, but said that he never thought about hitting for the cycle, even after the quick start.
“Have you ever read my stats?” joked Berry, who has never hit a homer in Triple-A or the majors. “I’ve never gone up to the plate thinking about hitting a home run.
“My best chance at getting one might be to hit a triple and just keep running.”
Berry is hitting .364 in his 10-game career with the Tigers and having a great time in the process.
“This has been a lot of fun,” he said. “Tonight was a thrill, getting a big cheer from the fans and then being able to hit that triple in the first inning. “This is a great team, and I’m just thrilled to be a part of it.”
Jackson was jokingly asked before the game if he felt like Wally Pipp, the Yankees first baseman who sat out a game because of a headache and permanently lost his job to Lou Gehrig.
“I’m not worried about that,” said Jackson, who is hitting .331 himself. “What I know is that we need to win some games, and this kid is doing a great job of helping the team. That’s the only important thing.”