Avisail Garcia grimaces in the dugout after being injured Saturday. (Jeff Roberson / Associated Press)
Lakeland, Fla. — Tigers outfielder Avisail Garcia is going to miss some time because of his severely bruised right heel.
He might even miss enough of the last two weeks of spring training to make it a certainty he won't make the 25-man roster.
"You hope for the best on those, because that kind of injury can linger if you aren't careful," manager Jim Leyland said.
"That can happen when you play hard, as he does, but it was not a smart play. It was a fundamental mistake.
"You don't jump at the base."
Before the injury, Garcia still had a chance of making the club, but only a distant one because the Tigers want him to play more often than he would in the limited outfield role that's available for a right-handed hitter.
But when Garcia got hurt on a play at first in the second inning Saturday — a play on which he took too long a stride toward first base in an effort to beat a throw — his distant chance probably became impossibly remote.
But the injury could have been much worse. So, in that sense, Garcia was fortunate.
"We're lucky he didn't break something," Leyland said. "When I saw him go airborne, I said 'oh no.' I could see it coming.
"They teach them in the minors not to jump at first base. But that's the human element of the game. He was busting his butt to beat the throw."
The injury occurred after Garcia had made a good impression this spring — so if the Tigers have seen the last of him because of the injury, it wasn't a lost spring. He hasn't lit up the stats sheet, mind you. Garcia's batting average is only .206 (7-for-34).
But the Tigers like him even more than they did.
"We got it across to him that we want him to be more aggressive at the plate, and I think he's gotten that message," Leyland said. "And I'm crazy about him. I think he's got it all.
"He made a heck of a catch in the first inning (on Saturday) that he made look almost routine. He can play defense, he can run — his last hurdle will be how much can he hit. I'm thrilled about him. I just enjoy watching him play. If I was a fan, I'd enjoy watching him play.
"But I don't know if he's going to be on the club or not."
Around the horn
Quintin Berry just can't shake the knee problem that has dogged him much of the spring. Recurring soreness in his left knee forced him out of Sunday's game and has limited him to 19 exhibition at-bats.
As a comparison, Rule 5 pick Jeff Kobernus leads the Tigers this spring with 46 at-bats. With an RBI single against the Nats, Kobernus raised his batting average to .239.
… Anibal Sanchez will throw in a minor-league game Monday, the same way Justin Verlander pitched for Toledo on Saturday while the Tigers were playing in Jupiter.
Suffice to say, Leyland wants to know one thing about a Verlander outing he doesn't see.
"Your No. 1 question is, 'Did he come out of it healthy?'" he said. "When they say 'oh, yeah,' you're relieved of everything else."
… The loss ended a four-game winning streak for the Tigers and put their spring record at 13-9-1. They have 12 games left.