Tigers short at catcher after Holaday injures thumb at Toledo

Lynn Henning
The Detroit News

Toledo — Two weeks before the Tigers' roster was to expand, with Bryan Holaday a guaranteed call-up, Holaday was lost for the season Monday when he badly injured his left thumb in a home-plate collision at Fifth Third Field.

The initial diagnosis, said Triple A Toledo manager Larry Parrish, was either a fracture of the thumb or a dislocation, either of which would end Holaday's season.

Holaday has been with the Tigers parts of the past two seasons and was catching for the Mud Hens in a game Toledo eventually lost to Gwinnett, 8-6, in 10 innings.

He was injured as Gwinnett scored its go-ahead run in the 10th. It came on a ground ball to a pulled-in infield that shortstop Dixon Machado fielded ahead of a throw to home intended to nab the runner sprinting from third base, Mallex Smith.

Holaday's tag appeared to have gotten Smith, but in their collision the ball was knocked loose as Holaday tumbled onto his back. He got to his feet and immediately headed for the dugout, knowing his thumb was seriously damaged.

Umpires determined Smith's slide was not targeted for Holaday, which would have resulted in an automatic out.

Toledo's regular backup catcher, Manny Pina, was the team's designated hitter Monday but was pulled in the eighth for a pinch runner. Holaday was replaced by Corey Jones, a regular infielder who was Parrish's emergency option.

Parrish's decision to pinch run for Pina came after the Mud Hens, who at one point were down, 5-0, rallied to tie the game, 6-6, in the eighth.

How the Tigers deal with Holaday's absence during September's roster expansion is unknown.

Pina is the logical choice. He played five big-league games with the Royals in 2011 and 2012 before joining the Mariners system from which he was traded to the Tigers in 2014 for "cash considerations."

Pina is 28, bats right-handed, and is hitting .238, with three home runs in 59 games for the Mud Hens.

Holaday, 27, had three hits, including a double for the Mud Hens that knocked in the tying run.

"He swung the bat great tonight," Parrish said, glumly, aware that Holaday's September stint in Detroit had probably been quashed. "He's been swinging better the last couple of games."

Shane Greene, the right-hander who began 2015 in glorious fashion for the Tigers ahead of a nosedive, started Monday's game for the Mud Hens and had another rough shift: 3⅔ innings, five hits, four earned runs, 92 pitches.

Steven Moya cracked a long home run, high and far beyond the 406-foot mark in right center for one of the Mud Hens' runs. He also doubled off the center-field fence.