Detroit — The Tigers will be adding a middle infielder, or two, before they get to Cleveland this weekend.
They played the final seven innings on Wednesday with center fielder JaCoby Jones on call, serving as the only extra infielder available.
"We are working on making a move," manager Ron Gardenhire said after the 5-4 loss to the Astros.
Shortstop Jose Iglesias (abdominal strain) was in Philadelphia Wednesday, being examined by core muscle and groin specialist Dr. William Meyers. Gardenhire said Iglesias took a cortisone injection.
"We don't know how long he's going to be (out)," Gardenhire said. "I don't think Iggy is going to be ready for another three or four days, at best."
Then, in the second inning Wednesday, the Tigers lost the services of Niko Goodrum, who started at shortstop, after a scary-looking collision with left fielder Christin Stewart.
"He has a deep bruise in his quad, above his knee," Gardenhire said. "He had an MRI. It's not one of those things that you are going to bounce back from in a couple of days. He's going to be out a bit."
Gardenhire wouldn't discuss the replacement options, but there are two middle infielders on the 40-man roster not currently with the team, and both of those players finished the season in Double-A — Sergio Alcantara and Willi Castro.
Two veteran middle infielders, Dixon Machado and Pete Kozma, finished the season at Triple-A Toledo. The Tigers would need to release a player off the 40-man roster to purchase their contract and bring them up.
"We're working on it," Gardenhire said, when questions about it persisted. "Believe me, I am more concerned about it than you are."
Goodrum was racing into shallow left field chasing a pop up off the bat of Evan Gattis. Stewart was racing in. Two big men running full speed and neither slowed down, neither gave way.
"You never want to see that, whether it's your team or the other team," catcher James McCann said. "It's a dangerous play. Two big guys going hard for it. And they aren't used to playing together, either. We're just hopeful Niko comes out all right."
Stewart ended up catching the ball flying over Goodrum. Both players flipped and fell. Goodrum stayed down for several minutes before gathering himself and limping off the field, assisted by head athletic trainer Doug Teter.
Goodrum was replaced by Ronny Rodriguez, leaving only Jones, who hasn't played infield in three years, as the only infield option on the bench.
"He was locked and loaded and ready," Gardenhire said of Jones. "If we had got to Ronny's spot in the ninth (he would have hit fifth), Victor (Martinez) would have hit for him and Jonesy would have been ready.
"I told him he could pick his spot, wherever he was most comfortable. He said he hated third base (where he played in Triple-A with the Pirates), so that's where I would've probably played him."
Still building strength
Daniel Norris' start on Wednesday, even with his fastball topping out at 92 mph and even with him running out of steam in the fifth inning, was encouraging.
He scattered four singles through the first four innings and racked up three strikeouts. He got eight swings and misses and six called strikes with his four-seam fastball. But it was just his third big-league start after missing four months following groin surgery — and he ran out of gas in the fifth.
"Good, bad or indifferent, I am just glad to be back on a mound throwing a baseball for the Tigers," Norris said.
He said he could feel the fatigue in his legs in what ended up being a four-run fifth inning. He started getting behind hitters and his breaking balls (slider and curve) started to flatten.
"You have to find a way to get through it," Norris said. "I was trying to make pitches, but they are a very good hitting team. I could've done better. It happens a majority of the time for starting pitchers — you hit a wall and you have to find a way to get through it."
Before the groin injury, Norris used to knock down that wall with mid-90s fastballs. Right now, with his arm not fully built up, that isn't in his arsenal.
"I didn't go the way I wanted it to, but there were things I did well and things I didn't do well," he said. "This is just part of it. I need to be patient. I am just appreciative of the opportunity to be back."
Around the horn
The Tigers bullpen didn't give up a run to the Astros in 11.1 innings of work in this series.
On Wednesday, rookie Sandy Baez pitched 2.1 scoreless innings. He has yet to give up a run in the big leagues — 9.2 scoreless innings. Zac Reininger and Shane Greene also pitched scoreless innings.
In the last eight games, covering 28 innings, the Tigers bullpen has allowed just two runs. Opponents are hitting .139 over that stretch.
... Nick Castellanos is the eighth player in franchise history to produce at least 20 home runs and 40 doubles in a season. He hit his 21st home run on Wednesday and has 40 doubles.
... Wednesday was the 46th one-run game the Tigers have played this season. They are 20-26 in those games.