Detroit — JaCoby Jones is back with the Tigers.
With Jones activated off the injured list Thursday, the Tigers designated outfielder Mikie Mahtook for assignment.
Mahtook, who began the season hitless in 23 at-bats, will be exposed to waivers. If Mahtook clears, he will be re-assigned to Toledo or given his outright release.
“(Mahtook) knew it when he sat down. He said ‘I get it, I’m not playing well,’” manager Ron Gardenhire said. “And after a good spring, a real good spring. He was scuffling at the plate, hitting a lot of balls into the air, which in this ballpark, is real tough.
“Defensively, in center field, he’s a corner guy more so than anything, so we put him in a spot, but he could play it out there and he did OK. A couple of boo-boos, but he did OK.
“It’s just one of those situations where the other guys, we’re comfortable with right now and he’s the one that was struggling the most. It’s unfortunate.”
The Tigers opted to keep outfielder Dustin Peterson, who is 4-for-16, and can play a few different positions, on the roster.
Jones sprained his left shoulder late in spring training. He was expecting to join Toledo in a road series in Norfolk this weekend, but Jones got the phone call from general manager Al Avila on his way to the airport.
“This morning at 8 (a.m.),” Jones said. “I was headed to the airport and Al called me and said ‘you’re comin' back here.’
“All right, cool. I wasn’t expecting it. I thought I’d be playing a few more games (at Toledo), but here I am.”
Jones said he’s healthy and ready to contribute to the Tigers’ hot start.
“Sitting on the couch and watching the guys win all these games, go on a hot streak and playing well, I wanted to be back so bad,” Jones said. “Obviously I couldn’t, but I wanted to be back, and it’s good to be back and contribute and help out.”
Jones and Mahtook both played collegiately at LSU, and seeing Mahtook leave was difficult.
“It’s tough, he’s a good friend of mine,” Jones said. “But that’s the business we’re in. It’s the way baseball works. It’s tough, but I wish him all the best.”
Gardenhire had Jones in the lineup Thursday to face the Indians in the series finale, playing center field and batting ninth.
Jones will be the Tigers’ every day center fielder, Gardenhire said.
Right fielder Nick Castellanos was a late scratch Thursday morning because of a sprained toe.
The pain had been bothering Castellanos for a few days, but it got to a point where he couldn’t play Thursday.
“Not good,” said Castellanos, of how it was feeling. “Just running and stuff like that, it’s difficult.”
Gardenhire said Castellanos’ availability through the weekend was day-to-day, which Castellanos agreed with.
“We have a day off (Friday) with the game getting snowed out, so I’m going to do everything I can to get on the field as soon as possible,” Castellanos said. “The frustrating part is I can’t really remember (when he hurt it). It’s just a gradual thing that started coming on the last couple of days.”
The Tigers will be careful with injury this weekend.
“The one thing we don’t want to do is rush it and have it linger,” Gardenhire said. “If it takes this weekend and get back home (and play next week) that’s just what it’ll be.”
Friday’s game in Minneapolis was called off late during Thursday’s game against the Indians.
More than 10 inches of snow, combined with 50 mile per hour winds, and dangerous driving conditions — there’s a winter storm warning scheduled until 1 p.m. Friday — combined to force the postponement.
Gardenhire said Friday’s scheduled starting pitcher, Daniel Norris, will return to the bullpen, what with another Tigers’ off day scheduled for Monday.
Tyson Ross and Jordan Zimmermann will make their regularly scheduled starts on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.
The start of Thursday’s game began in cool, brisk 43-degree conditions.
“You can’t just cut off the first couple of weeks of the season and throw them out,” Gardenhire said. “You have to play. Both teams are playing in the same thing. We have to play and just have to deal with it, like the other team.”
Niko Goodrum had a single, walk, stole a base, threw out an Indians runner at home, and made a good defensive play in right field.
Goodrum is hitting .293, while also playing a variety of positions.
“He’s been swinging real good,” Gardenhire said. “He’s been on it pretty much every day.”
On deck: Twins
Series: Two games at Target Field, Minnesota.
First pitch: Friday, 8:10 p.m. (canceled due to weather), Saturday-Sunday 2:10 p.m
TV/radio: Saturday-Sunday— FSD/97.1
Probables: Saturday — RHP Michael Pineda (1-0, 2.00) vs. RHP Tyson Ross (1-1, 2.25); Sunday — Jose Berrios (1-1, 2.18) vs. RHP Jordan Zimmermann (0-1, 2.50)