June 6, 2014 at 8:38 pm

Fair or foul: Tigers outfield duo Austin Jackson, Torii Hunter will bounce back

Tigers outfielders Austin Jackson, left, and Torii Hunter were at the source of a misplayed fly ball that led to a three-run fourth in Thursday's 7-3 loss to the Blue Jays. Hunter was charged with an error on the play. (Robin Buckson / Detroit News)

The Tigers havenít been playing well, so letís get right to it with Tom Gage and Lynn Henning.

Tom Gage: If you could assure Tigersí fans right now, Lynn, that a player whoís not currently doing well will be just fine, who would it be?

But Iím going to make it a difficult question because thinking weíd say the same guy, Iím going to eliminate Justin Verlander as a possible answer.

You were going to say Verlander, right?

And if you werenít, you can explain why in the verbose reply to come. Oops, I mean the well-crafted opinion youíll soon be contributing.

I was going to say Verlander, but maybe itís not as obvious an answer as I originally thought.

Lynn Henning: This might come as a shocker, given his ways of late, but I nominate Austin Jackson. This past month has made no sense. He destroyed the ball in March and April. Heís 27. Being the here-or-there player he can be, I see him coming back.

TG: Iím going to go with Torii Hunter, which Iím sure will stun you and many others, but this is why, other than copping out and not making his defense part of what Iím going to say.

Hunter has not had a good defensive season so far, thatís clear, but to tell you the truth, Lynn, Iím not insightful enough to attribute it to age or to say with certainty that a great outfielder is crumbling defensively.

So Iím not going to say it.

What I am going to say is that I still see big-league bat speed ó and if I see bat speed, I think his batting average will rebound. Iím not sure to what, but it will rebound.

LH: Surprisingly, the bat has held up. And probably will for four more months. What doesnít add up his the alarming falloff in defense. Canít fathom that happening to Hunter.

TG: My second-place vote goes to Drew Smyly, who I think will get it together.

LH: Uh, think Iíll join you on Smyly. He should be fine. Heíll always need to locate and keep that cutter and slider on track. But he should be a capable No. 5 (starter) with no issues.

TG: Too bad about Eugenio Suarez getting hurt right away, but Iím not sure where he stands in the grand scheme of things, anyway ó meaning the grand scheme of 2015 that will include a healthy Jose Iglesias.

Peer into your crystal ball, sage of St. Johns, and tell me if Suarez has a job with this team after 2014?

LH: Iglesias clearly is the Tigersí man. The only thing that will keep Suarez in the picture is Dave Dombrowski needing to hedge his bet on Iglesias never again having shin issues. Not sure he can sign off on that.

But itís why I suspect he might need to be careful with Suarez. If heís 100 percent sure about Iglesias, Suarez can be dealt ó and all worthy trade chips will be needed this offseason.

TG: Brad Ausmus is riding out the rough times pretty well, isnít he? Neither his blood pressure nor his voice rise ó but he was kind of hoarse earlier this week ó and there are no visible marks on his forehead if heís been beating it against a wall in search of solutions.


LH: Heís feeling it more than heís letting on. As you say, this is where a blissful baseball job crashes into barbed wire. The fans are getting edgy. He had a player (Joe Nathan) say some regrettable things last week. Heís feeling pressure for the first, and not last, time.

TG: Danny Worth has been designated. Is that it for him as a Tiger ó or will we see him later in the year if he clears waivers and accepts the assignment? I canít rule out that we will.

LH: I have a thought about Danny Worth: I think he stays. If thatís cryptic, itís meant to be.

TG: Which team should the Tigers be most concerned about within their division? Iíll say they have to be most concerned about themselves ó but, look, that leaves you four other splendid teams to choose from. What a great guy I am not to take the Twins.

LH: Ah, June must be National Baseball Scribe Charity Month. Iím sticking with the Indians, although loved the White Sox and their offseason and now itís clear why. But the Indians are picking it up on all sides and have that great young shortstop, Francisco Lindor, about ready for delivery.

Will hang with them as the best pick to dethrone Detroit.

TG: Answer this question for me if you will. If I see first-round draft choice Derek Hill at Comerica Park, what number would be correct to fill in the following blank? ďGood luck, kid, see you in __ years.Ē

LH: Four years. Definitely a talented kid, extraordinarily so. As it always is in baseball, depends how the bat develops. But if he progresses anywhere close to expectations, he should be playing a lot of baseball in Motown by 2018.

TG: Címon, California Chrome, right? Like the horse, like the odds, but hate the ordeal the Belmont can be. Second by a neck.

LH: Canít pick against the story. We hadnít seen a Triple Crown winner in baseball for 45 years. Then we got Miguel Cabrera. California Chrome doesnít hit the ball as well, but runs better than Miguel.

Iíll go with Chrome. This story is too good not to buy into.

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