Tigers right fielder Magglio Ordonez is back in Detroit and will be available for tonight’s make-up game with Tampa Bay. The Tigers made room on the roster by outrighting Enrique Gonzalez, but making room in the lineup is another story.
Magglio was placed on the disabled list with right ankle weakness after only 99 big league at bats. He didn’t do much in those trips to the plate, collecting just 17 hits, all but four of them singles. His first week in Triple-A, didn’t go very well, but Magglio turned in a 3-for-3 day including his second home run on Saturday, his last game with the Mud Hens. That performance made his stint in Toledo look pretty good. Magglio’s final totals included a .297 average in 37 at bats and an OPS of .820.
But the Tigers have been successful since Maggs was sidelined, posting a 16-12 record since May 11. In place of Ordonez, rookie Andy Dirks has seen the majority of the time in the lineup. Dirks got off to a fast start in his first 11 games, posting an OPS of .874, but since the calendar flipped to June, he is just 5-for-30 (.167) with two extra-base hits.
Even without his recent slide, which has been aided by a .167 BABiP, Dirks figured to be the odd man out when Magglio returned. That he has been in a bit of a funk just makes the transition a little easier to stomach. Dirks is the vastly superior defender, but Ordonez has a track record of over 2,000 career hits to help make his case. That and one memorable home run will buy you a little benefit of the doubt. Jim Leyland will have more patience with Maggs than a lot of fans will, but all that can become moot if Ordonez can regain a semblance of his former self at the dish.
Ordonez was ruled “done” by the masses before. He performed so badly in the first half of 2009 that many were calling for his outright release. Maggs came back and turned in a stellar second half that year and was well on his way to a fine season in 2010 before his ankle snapped in late July. Does he have one more resurgence in him, now playing at age 37? I sure do hope so, as does Leyland and the throngs of Ordonez fans out there. A healthy and productive Ordonez could easily be the difference in winning a division crown or watching from home again come October