DETROIT — Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland will have the bounty of two healthy players on his bench Sunday against the New York Yankees.
After playing Saturday night with only Ramon Santiago as an available reserve, the Tigers were forced to make a roster move Sunday. They put Andy Dirks (Achilles tendinitis) on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to May 31, and purchased the contract of Matt Young from Triple-A Toledo.
Young was supposed to come up on Friday night, but complications from hamstring injuries to catchers Gerald Laird and Alex Avila put the decision on hold.
Young, a speedy utility player, batted .259 with little power but had a sparkling .431 on-base percentage at Toledo. He can play second base and all three outfield positions.
The move might make life a little easier for Leyland. If the game Saturday had gone to extra innings, infielder Danny Worth would have been playing the outfield for the first time in his life.
“I think I would have been OK,” Worth said. “You run around there, and I’m sure I can catch the ball. I just would have gotten used to making throws with my shoulder — at second, you are mainly flipping the ball.”
Leyland also admitted Sunday that, had the Tigers sustained another injury Saturday, he was going to use reliever Brayan Villarreal as an emergency infielder or outfielder.
“You think about these things, because I’ve never managed with a one-man bench before,” he said. “Villarreal’s a good athlete who shags well, so I would have put him out there.”
Some of the other pitchers weren’t sure about the choice, though.
“You might need Brayan in the bullpen, and I’m a pretty good outfielder,” starting pitcher Max Scherzer said. “And, unlike these guys who have only played in the American League, I can hit. I’ve actually been on first base, unlike these guys.”
Phil Coke was adamant that he would be the most versatile, even saying he could play positions where left-handed throwers are usually discouraged.
“That doesn’t matter,” he insisted. “It’s about athletic ability. Brayan might be faster than I was, because he’s so small, but I could do the job.”
Coke also pointed out that, even though he has struck out in all three career at-bats, he’s not the worst hitter on the club.
“I battled Ubaldo Jimenez for 10 (actually eight) pitches in Colorado last season before he struck me out,” he said. “That was a great at-bat. I know I’d get a hit before Verlander if they gave me another shot.”
The final word went to a man who works with all the pitchers, Laird.
“This is easy: It isn’t any of those guys,” Laird said. “It would have to be Casey Crosby. He was a high school football star, and he’s the best athlete of any of them.”
As a receiver and running back, Crosby had a phenomenal senior season at Kaneland High Schoool in suburban Chicago. He caught 75 passes for 1,185 yards and 18 touchdowns. He also rushed for 10 scores, returned a kickoff for a touchdown, was Kaneland’s leading tackler at free safety and served as the long snapper.
He was recruited by Illinois to play football but chose baseball. He might want to get his updated resume to Leyland before the next emergency arises.