Detroit — One move was expected, the other not as much.
The Tigers on Tuesday sent outfielder JaCoby Jones back to Toledo to clear a spot for second baseman Ian Kinsler, who returned from the disabled list.
That move was no surprise.
Catcher James McCann was also expected to come off the disabled list Tuesday. Instead, the Tigers opted to send him to Toledo on a rehab assignment.
“We just decided to send him out for a couple of days to rehab and get some live at-bats,” manager Brad Ausmus said. “Let him catch a couple games and make sure everything is fine. It’ll just be a couple of days.”
McCann hasn’t faced live pitching, nor has he caught live pitching, since he was hit by a pitch on May 25 and a five-stitch gash was opened on his left hand. Sending him on a rehab assignment serves two purposes:
It gives McCann some time to get back up to game speed, and it allows the Tigers to keep John Hicks and his hot bat around for a few more games. In 13 games, Hicks is hitting .313 with three home runs and 12 RBIs.
And, as Ausmus said, McCann probably wouldn’t have started against the Angels’ right-handed starting pitching Tuesday or Wednesday anyway.
“Yeah, it’s more about the fact that we won’t see any left-handed pitching until we get to Boston (Friday),” Ausmus said. “Alex (Avila) is starting tonight, so we might as well get McCann some at-bats and get him playing.
“It wouldn’t have made much sense to activate him and then sit him on the bench.”
McCann was hit twice in the same spot in his left hand. The first time, in his final at-bat of spring training, a blood blister formed in the crease of his palm where the skin was pinched between the ball and his bat. He was hit in the same spot by Houston's Mike Fiers in Houston. This time, the skin split.
McCann experimented with using various types of padding but deemed it too uncomfortable. He will continue to use just his normal batting glove when he hits and catches.
As for Kinsler, he was put on the disabled list in the hopes that his hamstring strain could be eradicated completely with the extended rest.
“Yes,” Kinsler said when asked if he felt completely healed. “I am ready. I probably could have come back a couple of days sooner, but it’s good now.”
The hamstring tightened up on him at the end of the series in Houston. The Tigers went 6-3 in his absence. Andrew Romine and Dixon Machado, filling in at second base combined to hit .333 (13 for 39) in Kinsler’s absence.
Their efforts were not lost on Kinsler. When asked what he was worried most about coming back after the layoff, he said, “Getting two hits. Because every guy who played second base seemed to get two hits every game.
“Andrew and Dixon were doing a great job. I just hope I can come in and contribute any way I can.”
At the time the hamstring flared up — it was the second time it happened — Kinsler had just fought his way through a 6 for 40 slump. In the 15 games before going on the DL, he hit .290 with three doubles, a home run and 10 runs scored.