Tigers outfielder Magglio Ordonez is pretty much all set to return to the lineup. He’s spent the past four days on a rehab assignment with Triple-A Toledo and the plan was to have been to activate in time for tonight’s game. That timetable has been pushed back by at least a day, but with the team in the midst of seven wins in the past eight games, and the offense seemingly clicking, where does he fit?
Before Maggs was shelved, Jim Leyland was basically rotating him with Brennan Boesch and Ryan Raburn. Now that it appears Ordonez is healthy, given his stature and his salary, you would expect him to see the bulk of the at bats in right field. Raburn has shifted to second base for now and Boesch would seem to be the choice in left, but that leaves Andy Dirks on the outside looking in. On it’s face, most would say that Ordonez is the better choice to play over Dirks, but when you factor in the defense that Dirks provides, I’m not so sure it’s clear-cut.
Ordonez has been turning on the ball regularly on his rehab assignment, which should clear up any worries that his horrible start was more due to age than injury, and if he can keep that up he’ll be a solid stick in the order. But Dirks hasn’t been bad at all since coming to the Tigers with half of his 12 hits have going for extra bases while sporting an OPS of .821. In fact, in exactly half as many plate appearances, Dirks has two more extra base hits than Ordonez, while also besting him in runs scored and RBI.
Now, we are talking about a guy with all of 48 big league at bats under his belt versus a man with over 2,000 career hits. Track records and sample sizes are very much in play here, as they should be. Dirks looks like he’ll be a fine ball player for years to come, but until Magglio (or another outfielder) breaks down, it looks like he’ll have to wait his turn.
Roster Decisions Coming
The Tigers will be making at least two moves in the next two days when they activate Ordonez and then left hander Phil Coke, who will make the start on Wednesday. It has been assumed that catcher Omir Santos, who hasn’t sniffed the field since being recalled last week, will be demoted to make room for Ordonez. That’s the way I would play it, anyway. Having an emergency catcher is a nice luxury to have, but the alternative is to demote Dirks or Casper Wells and both of those guys provide much more value to the ballclub. Either one is a viable pinch-hitting option, unlike Santos, and both can (and will) be used as late-inning defensive replacements. The flip side is that neither will see much time at the plate and both players would benefit from the regular playing time that a demotion to Toledo would provide.
On the pitching side, southpaw Adam Wilk was told when he arrived on Sunday that his trip may be a short one. He survived David Purcey‘s return from paternity leave and now I’m thinking he may survive Coke’s return as well. Daniel Schlereth has done himself no favors in recent outings and he may have cemented his departure with his showing last night. Schlereth entered the game with a six-run lead and only three outs to get. But after striking out the lead-off batter, Schlereth walked two of the next three and Leyland had to go get Joaquin Benoit to close out the win.
When you have a six-run cushion, I don’t care if you’re facing the ’27 Yankees, you thrown the ball over the plate and let them hit it. Maybe it was me, but it looked like Schlereth was worried that Josh Hamilton would take him deep last night and he nibbled around the plate instead of going after him. Even if Hamilton had hit the ball nine miles, the Tigers would have still been up by four. Schlereth has now walked 11 batters in 18 innings of work; it’s time to go see A.J. Sager and spend some time at Tony Packo’s, my man.