DETROIT — If you think the Tigers aren’t serious about making the playoffs, their latest move might change your mind.
Before Friday’s game, president and general manager Dave Dombrowski announced the team had designated utility man Jeff Baker for assignment and called up outfielder Avisail Garcia from Double-A Erie.
“He’s had a very fine year,” Dombrowski said of Garcia, who turned 21 in June. “He did well when he was at Lakeland, of course, and he’s gone up to Double-A and hit over .300 on a consistent basis. He’s played very well in the outfield, he runs well, so he’s a multi-tool player. People felt he’s ready to come up and help us.”
Dombrowski said they had originally discussed bringing up Garcia at the beginning of August but opted to let him have another month of development in the minors.
Garcia was batting .312 with six home runs and 22 RBI in 55 games with the Erie SeaWolves. With the Lakeland Flying Tigers, Garcia hit .289 with eight home runs and 36 RBI in 67 games before his promotion to Double-A.
In his last 36 games, Garcia has hit safely in 29, batting .342 with eight doubles, a triple, four home runs and 17 RBI.
Manager Jim Leyland said he planned to play Garcia Saturday night against White Sox left-hander Francisco Liriano.
“I haven’t seen some of the kids just recently signed but I thought tool-wise, all-purpose tools, I thought he was the best-looking kid we had a couple years ago when I saw him in spring training,” Leyland said. “He can run, he can throw, he’s supposed to be a terrific outfielder, he’s got power — so we’re going to try him. Why not? I like stuff like that. I’m kind of excited.”
Also excited was Miguel Cabrera.
“Mi hermano (my brother) is coming,” he said in the Tigers clubhouse.
Like Cabrera, Garcia is a big man from Venezuela. He’s listed at 6-foot-4, 240 pounds. In earlier spring trainings, Garcia made sure to watch his idol, Cabrera, closely.
Baker, who was acquired in a post-waiver trade deadline deal with the Chicago Cubs on Aug. 5, was hitting only .200 with four RBI in 15 games since the Tigers acquired him.
“It’s certainly unfair to judge a guy in the little bit we’ve seen him,” Leyland said. “It just wasn’t working at this particular time. I’m sure it’ll probably work somewhere else again, maybe starting over next year, because the track record’s OK. It wasn’t working here right now so we decided to make the move.”
Leyland said he will probably bat Garcia seventh on Saturday.
Al Al will be here
Dombrowski also announced that reliever Al Alburquerque would be joining the team Friday and would be activated Sunday, the first day he’s eligible since being optioned to Toledo after being on the disabled list.
Alburquerque is coming off right elbow surgery this past offseason.
Last year with the Tigers, Alburquerque was 6-1 with a 1.87 ERA in 41 relief appearances.
“It’s like making a big trade acquisition to me,” Dombrowski said. “All reports are he’s throwing the ball like he did last year at this time. How Jim decides to use him, because we’ve got other guys out there, but he is throwing the ball very well. He is throwing his fastball consistently mid-90s up and his good slider. So he’s a big addition for us.” Other call-ups
The Tigers said they will announce their September call-ups on Saturday.
“We’ll have a handful, right around there,” Dombrowski said. “Not that I’m trying to be coy about this but we don’t tell the players until after the game (Friday). So that’s why we don’t want to announce it beforehand.”
Leyland does not prefer to have a crowded clubhouse so there will not be a huge influx.
“We’re only making moves we think make sense, that serve a purpose,” Leyland said. “There will be nobody that’s called up just to watch a big-league game.”
Leyland said in the past when he was managing the Pittsburgh Pirates and they were 20 games out of the playoff hunt, they might call up a few kids to get their feet wet in the big leagues.
“I think there’s some value to it, if you can work them out in a major league stadium, get them used to the environment of it,” Leyland said. “Yeah, I think there’s some value to it. But I wouldn’t want to do it in the situation we’re in, because the stakes are too high right now.”
Cabrera still hurt
There has been some criticism of Cabrera because he failed to beat out the double play throw that ended the game Thursday night in Kansas City.
There may be a good reason for that.
“No, he’s not healthy,” Leyland said. “He’s playable, but he’s not totally healthy.”
Leyland said Cabrera’s sprained right ankle is better but it remains sore.