Eugenio Suarez hit .302 in 12 games at Toledo. (Robin Buckson / Detroit News)
Detroit — What made it urgent for the Tigers to make a roster move Wednesday was not just the way their shortstops hadn’t been hitting.
But the way most of the lower half of their lineup hadn’t been.
One weak spot could be absorbed in good times. But when it became a production problem at four spots during a 4-11 skid, something had to be done.
And the something was to call up a shortstop Eugenio Suarez, who’d been showing offensive promise in the minors.
The move was an admission by the Tigers, though, that there is a larger-than-shortstop situation needing to be addressed.
Entering Wednesday’s game against the Blue Jays, third baseman Nick Castellanos was hitting .239 with no home runs and one RBI during the club’s 15-game slump. Catcher Alex Avila is hitting .158 with two home runs and three RBIs, and center fielder Austin Jackson was at .151 with one home run and five RBIs.
That’s a composite .182 at three lower-half lineup spots for 15 games.
As low man, there was no way Danny Worth would survive the domino effect of such a collective drought.
He didn’t, being designated for assignment to make room for Suarez.
“It’s a change we hope helps the bottom part of the lineup in terms of production,” Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said of adding a better bat at short.
Suarez wasn’t in Wednesday’s starting lineup, but “most likely” will be Thursday, Ausmus said.
Not only that, but Suarez is expected to get “the bulk of the playing time” from this point on, the manager said.
But in saying that, Ausmus also cautioned that “he’s a young kid (22) coming to the majors for the first time who will be playing a premium defensive position. There will have to be some patience.”
Suarez hit .302 in 12 games at Triple A Toledo after hitting .284 in 42 games at Double A Erie. If nothing else, he should provide an offensive boost to a position that has hit .187 for the Tigers this season with Andrew Romine at .200, Worth at .167 and Alex Gonzalez at .167.
While announcing the move, Tigers president and general manager Dave Dombrowski also confirmed Jose Iglesias, who would have been the team’s starting shortstop this season if he hadn’t suffered stress fractures in both legs, will indeed miss the entire season.
It was the premise on which Dombrowski said the Tigers had been operating since spring training.
“(Suarez has) played very well for us at the minor-league level,” Dombrowski said. “He’s solid defensively, and has swung the bat well. We feel he’s ready for the opportunity.
“We talked about him in spring training, but said, ‘Let him go out and play every day for a couple of months and we’ll see how he does.’ He’s continued to grow and to be the player we hoped he would be. He’s talented, so we felt it was the right time.”
As for Worth’s situation, Dombrowski said, “We were looking for someone to come in and play on an every-day basis and unfortunately Danny has scuffled when he got the opportunity.”
But, Romine has scuffled, too. So why designate Worth?
“In Andrew’s situation, he hits from the left-hand side, so we figured we’d stick with him as a switch-hitter,” Dombrowski said.
Although Dombrowski referred to Suarez playing every day, that decision will be up to Ausmus.
But it’s one with which he agrees.
“We think he has the ability to play here, but there’s going to be a learning curve,” Dombrowski said. “I would expect he’s going to get the bulk of the playing time, but having Romine as a left-handed bat enables us to spell him when he needs to be spelled.”
If Worth clears waivers -- he already has once this year -- he can be traded, released or sent back to the minor leagues.