Kinsler returns against Royals after concussion layoff
Detroit — He considered for a moment the flip side of a four-day layoff.
What if consciousness about concussions hadn’t been raised in recent years, in the NFL, in big league baseball, in all sports where caring for an athlete’s brain has taken on new and ever-rising importance?
Ian Kinsler nodded.
“You understand the concern about head injuries,” Kinsler said Friday, speaking in the Tigers clubhouse as he readied for a return to the Tigers lineup, batting leadoff, against the Royals in a 7:10 p.m. game at Comerica Park.
“I saw Alex (Avila, former Tigers catcher) deal with it for two years and you could tell it wasn’t any fun.
“I understand it (concussion protocol).”
Kinsler missed all three games of a Tigers sweep against the Twins at Minneapolis after he was hit in the helmet by a Trevor Bauer fastball during Sunday’s game against the Indians at Cleveland. But after time and exams convinced doctors he was in the clear, Kinsler was to start Friday at second base.
He had to acknowledge another potential plus from a nearly five-day break. Kinsler had time for rest. He could allow the typical list of unspoken ailments, even if minor, to heal or at least subside.
“If you want to look at a silver lining,” Kinsler said, yes, the break had its advantages, particularly when the club won every game in which he didn’t play.
“It’s September and it’s a long season,” he said. “You try and use it to your advantage. To get ready for a hot (finish). There are 10 games left and we’re in a playoff spot right now that we control.
“But we’ve got a tough opponent,” he said of the Royals, “and another tough one (Indians) after that.”
The Tigers headed into Friday’s duel with a half-game lead over the Orioles in the push to win a wild-card playoff spot.
Kinsler loves the way his team is playing. And he lives for the kind of drama the waning days of September bring to a team in contention.
But he cannot make assumptions. He knows sports. And history.
“You see crazy things happen in baseball,” he said. “Every year.”
He paused for a moment as the smallest of smiles crept across his face. His point, he decided, was worth a repeat.
“Crazy things happen,” he said, in a voice that suggested a sometimes-freaky season of baseball in Detroit might have more surprises ahead.