Tigers send slumping Collins to Toledo
Detroit — Two days after he vulgarly gestured to some heckling fans at Comerica Park, Tigers outfielder Tyler Collins was sent Wednesday to Triple A Toledo.
The move ostensibly was made to clear a roster spot for reliever Francisco Rodriguez, who had been on family leave, and was not necessarily tied to anything that happened during Monday’s loss to the A’s.
But the fallout from the incident was still fresh as the Tigers got ready Wednesday for another game in their four-game series against the A’s at Comerica Park.
Commissioner Rob Manfred’s office declined to suspend Collins, but it is known Manfred’s office is fining Collins an unspecified amount. That information is not shared with the Tigers, who likewise had no power to independently suspend Collins, in keeping with big league baseball’s agreement with the Major League Players Association. Suspensions only can be sanctioned by Manfred’s office in New York.
Monday’s events started when Collins lost a fly ball in the lights and sky. The ball fell for a shallow double, and set in motion a series of gaffes, including a botched pickup by outfielder Justin Upton.
A move everyone, including Collins, knew was coming was finalized Wednesday when Rodriguez returned from his leave. Collins’ return to Toledo would have been sealed earlier this month had Cameron Maybin, the team’s designated fourth outfielder heading into 2016, not run into a series of mishaps.
The Tigers, for now, will carry 13 pitchers as they wait to see about Shane Greene, who left Sunday’s game with a blister and who figures to miss a turn Friday against the Twins in Minneapolis.
Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said the team likely would carry one fewer outfielder “into the weekend” as various health issues are weighed, including the status of Maybin, who fractured a wrist in spring camp, then reinjured the wrist and hurt his shoulder during a rehab stint as his tough spring continues.
Ausmus was emphatic Wednesday: Collins’ relocation to Toledo was all about getting the left-handed batter more work than he was collecting in Detroit, where he was earning occasional starts and fill-in shifts that accounted for 20 at-bats in 10 games. He was hitting .100, with no home runs and one double.
“That’s what we told him — he needed at-bats,” said Ausmus, who insisted the reassignment wasn’t influenced by Monday’s outburst. “It had nothing to do with the other night.”
Collins had the same understanding Wednesday.
“Yes, I would probably say so,” he responded when asked if regular duty at Toledo was the big reason the Tigers, and perhaps he, saw merit to Wednesday’s move.
He also was planning Wednesday to put in his archives any memory, or conversation, about Monday night’s snit for which he apologized long and contritely afterward.
“I’m over it,” he said Wednesday, during a brief phone conversation.