Detroit Tigers: Andy Dirks out, trouble brewing

And here comes trouble for the Detroit Tigers. Andy Dirks injured his back and is slated for surgery and will likely miss 3-4 months of the season.

He was scheduled to be the lefty-hitting platoon mate of Rajai Davis in left field. In theory, Don Kelly could slide into that role. Dirks was supposed to get a big number of at-bats against right-handed pitching, something the newcomer Davis doesn’t perform well against. Over the past three seasons Davis has hit just .232 with a pathetic .269 on-base % against righties in a span covering 751 at-bats, no small sample size.

Andy Dirks

Andy Dirks

In 505 at-bats during that same three-year timeframe Kelly has hit just .230 with a .300 on-base % against right-handed pitching. He’s not the answer.

This news regarding Dirks is particularly frustrating as he was reported to be 100% healthy after battling a knee injury all of 2013. He was hoping to get back to his .300+ hitting ways. Plans have changed.

Steve Lombardozzi can plug into the outfield as well but Brad Ausmus had him pegged as more of an infield utility piece. If Lombo gets more time in left then Hernan Perez could break camp with the big club.

To make matters more difficult, the Tigers, as of last July, had a guy who profiled as an everyday left fielder. His name was Avisail Garcia. He now suits up on the south side of Chicago. In his place the Tigers have Jose Iglesias playing shortstop, yet he is battling an injury of his own.

The Tigers’ outfield depth in the minors is razor thin. Daniel Fields, Tyler Collins, and Steven Moya are strong prospects but simply aren’t ready yet. Nick Castellanos would have been, but he now plays third base.

It is amazing how one spring training injury can rattle the foundation of a 25-man roster. The Tigers’ could’ve sought help in the form of free agent outfielder Nelson Cruz who sat on the market for what seemed like ages but he finally signed a 1-year, $8M deal with Baltimore a little over a week ago.

30-year old Trevor Crowe is in camp on a minor league deal. But he couldn’t even hang with the Astros last year and offers nothing of note against right-handed pitching either.

Hey, I know, Miguel Cabrera played a little left field back in the day…

GM Dave Dombrowski will assess the damage and plug the hole as spring training rolls along. The Tigers will survive this setback but it’s an ominous start to a season already full of unknowns.

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  • Jim Rohlman

    Andes Torres, Luke Scott , Juan Pierre , Sam Fuld…Most of the good ones are gone….Quentin Berry sign with anyone ?

    • Joe White

      Sorry I asked!

    • burrwick

      You answered my question I asked in your original reply…..Berry is in camp with the Orioles but I don’t think he’s the answer. Looks like they’ll have to flounder with questionable internal options unless they can work a trade.

      • Joe White

        I don’t think this is a news flash guys but Quintin Berry stinks.

  • rayder409

    Hate to wish any harm on anyone but in a twisted way… this kind of forces DD (and the Tigers) to actually have to deal with what was sure to be a soft spot in the lineup… Neither Dirks nor Davis was looked upon to be great AB’s in the lineup… We were “hoping” Dirks was going to gain back some of the form that got him to hit above .300 a few years ago… Davis is a one-way player who will only help if and when he gets on base… So…. we need a hitter who can play a respectable LF… Dom Brown available?

    • Joe White

      Too late for big names like that.

  • Dean

    How melodramatic! This will not make or break their season.

    • Joe White

      No it won’t, which is what I said at the end. The concern is the lack of depth.

  • Steve

    Too bad they didn’t sign Cruz. I think the Tigers are really going to be light on “punch” this year

  • Jim Rohlman

    plug in a veteran here on a 1 year deal and not skip a beat…

    • Joe White

      Name a few Jim.

    • burrwick

      I’m thinking any decent vets are already on a roster and not waiting at home for a call from DD. Who did you have in mind?

  • jeff s

    No disrespect to Andy Dirks, but his is probably one of the least expensive positions in the Tigers lineup to repair, based on what production is expected. If it had happened to Verlander, Scherzer, or Cabrera, I’d be heading to the tavern right now. May go anyway.

    • Joe White

      Haha. I like it. I just hope this isn’t the beginning of an injury trend is all.