Groin strain will end Mahtook's breakout season

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News
Tigers' Mikie Mahtook will be sidelined for the remainder of the season with a groin strain.

Detroit — To Mikie Mahtook, this was the worst-case scenario.

He’s been playing with a strained groin for most of this month and he steadfastly wanted to keep grinding through.

But it’s not going to happen.

Manager Brad Ausmus announced before the game Saturday that Mahtook will likely be shut down for the remainder of the season after an MRI revealed a Grade 2 strain in his left groin.

“I hope not,” Mahtook said Friday night, before he knew the results of the MRI. “If I could play tomorrow, I’d love to play. I don’t want to sit. I’ve sat long enough in the early part of the season.

“I don’t like sitting. If I can play, I’m going to play.”

Mahtook, who missed five games with the groin earlier this month, aggravated it again chasing down a double by Byron Buxton in the fourth inning Friday night.

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“It wasn’t a pop, more like a zinger feeling,” Mahtook said. “It’s something I felt in certain movements over the course of these last few weeks. I just put my body in a position where I could really feel it. It shocked me and didn’t feel real good.”

Mahtook, who began the season as the fifth outfielder playing mostly against left-handed pitching, has been one of the few bright spots for the Tigers this season. He battled his way into the everyday lineup on June 25 and never left.

He started 66 of 70 since that point, hitting .287 with a .349 on-base average and .817 OPS. He produced 10 doubles, six triples, and eight home runs in those 70 games.

“This is probably what Tampa Bay envisioned for him,” said Ausmus, referencing the Rays who made Mahtook their first-round pick out of LSU in 2011. “But players progress at different rates.”

Ausmus was asked if he regretted not putting Mahtook into the regular lineup sooner.

“No,” he said. “Mikie was working on revamping his swing all through spring training. If we would have thrown him out there it might not have worked. He progressively got better and better and ended up earning his way into regular playing time.”

Initially, Mahtook was going to start the season platooning with Tyler Collins in center field. When J.D. Martinez went on the disabled list to start the season, that platoon moved to right field, which opened the way for JaCoby Jones to start in center field.

More:McCosky: Ausmus wasn’t perfect, but principled

When Martinez came back, Jones was dispatched to Toledo and Mahtook took over in center field.

Around the horn

Right-handed pitcher Jeff Ferrell, who was hit in the head with a line drive on Monday remains in concussion protocol. There is no timetable when he will return.

…Ausmus said Daniel Norris will remain in the rotation. So, barring an injury, the rotation going forward will be Matthew Boyd (Saturday), Buck Farmer (Sunday), Anibal Sanchez (Tuesday), Jordan Zimmermann (Wednesday) and Norris (Thursday).   

Twitter @cmccosky