Tigers' Austin Jackson fouls the ball in the bottom of the third inning. (Elizabeth Conley / Detroit News)
Detroit — Leadoff one day, batting ninth the next.
Such is life for Austin Jackson these days.
On Monday against the A’s, he was at the bottom of the order for just the second time in his major-league career. Asked for some perspective, manager Brad Ausmus said there wasn’t much to give.
Ausmus put Rajai Davis and Ian Kinsler atop the order against left-hander Scott Kazmir.
“Don’t read into it,” Ausmus said of Jackson. “He’s hitting ninth and it has nothing to do with anything other than the fact that Raj has done pretty well off Kazmir (9-for-18, six RBIs).
“Normally would have hit Raj down low and Austin in the one spot again, try and get him going — and that’s where he’s hit his whole career. But after looking at the numbers, in this particular instance, I wanted to hit Raj up top.”
Jackson, 27, has been mostly the Tigers leadoff man since being acquired ahead of the 2010 season. Not a prototypical No. 1 guy, given all his strikeouts, the Tigers moved him down this season, with the additions of Kinsler and Davis.
All the shuffling hasn’t worked out well for Jackson, who’s batting a career-worst .244 with a career-worst .359 slugging percentage.
Ausmus moved Jackson back to No. 1 on Sunday, and vowed to keep him there for a bit.
Jackson was out early before Monday’s game, doing some additional batting practice with hitting coach Wally Joyner. The emphasis seemed to be on Jackson going the other way, and in his first at-bat Monday, that’s what he did, flying out to the warning track in right.
Once considered a possible successor to Jim Leyland, Tom Brookens now finds himself retired, after Leyland walked away last fall. And Brookens is OK with that.
“I think I was just ready to go home and relax and take it easy,” Brookens, 60, said at the Tigers 1984 reunion Monday at Comerica Park. “I have not missed it all that much.”
Brad Ausmus kept two of Leyland’s coaches, but not Brookens. He got an interview with the Mariners after Lloyd McClendon got that managerial job, but that didn’t work out either. Then came the minor-league offers — multiple ones. And while Brookens enjoyed his time managing in the lower levels, he couldn’t get excited about taking that plunge again.
“I wasn’t in that mindset,” said Brookens, who now spends his days in Pennsylvania teaching grandson, Gage, the finer points of Little League. And while he said he’s “not closing the door” on coaching again, he doesn’t expect to be actively searching for a job this winter, either.
Champions struggled, too.
The 2014 Tigers have had their ups and downs.
Most don’t remember, the 1984 Tigers — for all their accolades — actually had some downs, too.
“We went wire to wire, yes we did,” Alan Trammell said. “We went 35-5, yes we did. We won 17 games in a row on the road, yes we did. But Toronto wasn’t going away.
“Toronto was honest. They pushed us.”
The Blue Jays got within 3.5 games in early June, and would’ve gotten closer if not for the heroics of Dave Bergman. In the 10th inning of a June 4 game at Tiger Stadium, Bergman and Roy Lee Jackson battled each other in an epic 13-pitch at-bat — one which ended with a Bergman walk-off homer.
“The at-bat of the year, for any of us,” Trammell said. “They were breathing down our neck.”
Around the horn
Reliever Joel Hanrahan (Tommy John surgery) is expected to throw off the mound at some point this week, ahead of an expected debut in Detroit sometime after the All-Star break.
… Jackson got a huge ovation in the fourth inning Monday when he left his feet to catch a Jed Lowrie fly ball. Not known for diving, Jackson took a chance — and it paid off.