Chicago — The Detroit Tigers waited on Tyler Collins as long as they could, longer than they’ve waited on a lot of young players.
He was a sixth-round pick in 2011 and, showing flashes of power and athleticism, he cracked the 25-man roster in each of the last four years. This year, he made the club out of spring training and was all but given one of the starting outfield spots — in right field when J.D. Martinez was injured, and center field most recently.
But, the flashes dissipated and the Tigers can wait no more.
Collins on Sunday was designated for assignment. And since he is out of minor-league options, he will be exposed to the waiver wire and possibly the trade market.
“We like him and we were hoping he’d come out of his funk,” manager Brad Ausmus said. “As some point you reach a point where you can’t wait any longer.”
Collins’ struggles have been in every phase — hitting, defense, even base running. In his last 20 games, including a three-strikeout performance in Game 1 Saturday, he was 5 for 61 (.081) with 30 strikeouts. He followed an 0-for-30 skid with a 2-for-26 slide and is hitting .200 on the season.
“Sometimes change in environment can help,” Ausmus said. “But we also reached a point where we have to win games. As much as you want him to come out of it, you can’t wait six months.”
The best-case scenario for the Tigers would be for Collins to clear waivers and be reassigned to a minor-league contract. But Ausmus didn’t sound confident it would go that way.
“We’d like him to (clear waivers) but there is a whole process,” he said. “Some team could claim him. There could be a trade possibility. It’s going to take a week. Unless there is a trade, we won’t know for a week.”
In the meantime, the Tigers purchased the contract of 31-year-old journeyman Alex Presley from Triple-A Toledo to be their left-handed hitting option in center and right field.
“He’s going to play some,” Ausmus said. “He’s a left-handed bat. We have JJ (JaCoby Jones) and Mikie Mahtook. We like JJ’s defense, but he’s still learning offensively.”
Presley, a veteran of seven big-league seasons, was one of the Tigers’ hitting stars in spring training and was among the final cuts. But he got off to a slow start in Toledo and when the Tigers needed an outfielder, Jim Adduci got the first call.
“I wish I was playing better at the time,” said Presley, who was up with the Tigers for three games last season. “But I felt like that was a situation that was completely on me. I wasn’t playing real well at the beginning. That’s how it goes sometimes. You just keep playing and let more stuff shake out.”
He has been swinging the bat much better this month, hitting .250 with two home runs and nine RBIs over his last 21 games.
“I wasn’t able to carry over the momentum from spring like I wanted to initially,” he said. “But at the pace I was on, it would have been tough to keep up. I’ve had some good times and some bad times, like normal.
“But I have felt good lately, and that’s all that matters.”
Presley got the start in center field Sunday against the White Sox.