Chicago — The situation, if not critical, has at the least become dangerously unstable for the Tigers.
With catcher James McCann and left-handed hitting outfielder Jim Adduci already on the disabled list, and with right-fielder J.D. Martinez playing despite nagging soreness in his right foot, the Tigers have now lost the services of second baseman Ian Kinsler for at least 10 days.
Kinsler, who pinch-hit and walked in the eighth inning of Friday night's 8-2 loss, re-aggravated the hamstring that kept him out of the lineup for five games earlier this month. He was placed on the 10-day DL Saturday morning.
“This thing has lingered for three weeks,” manager Brad Ausmus said. “He was able to play with it at times, but last night it bothered him. The decision was made right there that we needed to get rid of this things once and for all.
“We can’t let it keep lingering and lingering. We need to DL him and let him get treatment for 10 days and hope it’s behind us for the rest of the season.”
That injury, plus a schedule that is asking the Tigers to play three games in less than 24 hours with the doubleheader Saturday, forced some hasty roster adjustments.
Center fielder JaCoby Jones was recalled from Triple-A Toledo to take Kinsler’s spot. Jones, who was the Tigers’ opening day center fielder, was sent back to Toledo after he’d taken a pitch in the face. He was hitting .265 with three home runs, 11 RBIs and 19 runs scored for the Mud Hens.
“They called me at 2:30 a.m. (Saturday morning),” said Jones, who got to the ball park around 11:20 CT. “I was actually sleeping. The phone rang about 10 times. I finally answered one of them, and they told me I was coming up here.”
He got on a 10 a.m. flight out of Toledo and was in the starting lineup for Game 1.
“I just have to do what I did in spring training and when I was going good here in the first month -- play defense, get on base, score some runs, anyway I can help the team win,” he said.
Jones may have been on his way up soon, even without Kinsler’s injury. Tyler Collins, who has gotten the bulk of playing time in center field, is hitting .113 this month with 28 strikeouts in 72 plate appearances.
In the meantime, Andrew Romine and Dixon Machado will fill in at second base.
Because of the doubleheader, the Tigers also needed to add a fresh arm to the bullpen. Left-hander Chad Bell, who had pitched nine straight scoreless innings until giving up three runs Friday night, was sent back to Toledo.
He threw 48 pitches in 2.1 innings against the White Sox and would have been unavailable Saturday or Sunday.
Thus, 30-year-old right-hander Arcenio Leon was purchased from Toledo. Right-hander William Cuevas was designated for assignment off the Tigers’ 40-man roster to make room for him.
Leon has toiled for 12 seasons in the minor leagues. He came on the Tigers’ radar in 2015 when he was pitching in the Venezuelan Winter League, but signed with the White Sox. The Tigers came after him again last winter after he had a successful season in the Mexican Baseball League.
This time Leon agreed to a minor-league contract with the Tigers.
And although he wasn’t initially invited to big-league camp this spring, he pitched his way onto the spring roster and very nearly made the Tigers opening day roster.
With his upper-90s fastball and sweeping slider, he has been closing games for the Mud Hens, earning 10 saves. His ERA was 3.15 with a 0.850 WHIP.
It would fitting if he were to make his big-league debut against the White Sox. They called him up from Triple-A in 2008 but never put him in a game.