April 26, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers center fielder Austin Jackson (14) scores a run against the Atlanta Braves at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Austin Jackson will still need to remain on the disabled list for about nine more days before he’s eligible to return to action, but the good news out of Detroit is that he’s unlikely to need extra time to recover from his hamstring injury. James Schmehl of MLive has a quote from Jim Leyland to this end:
"Jackson has been sidelined since May 11 with a strained left hamstring, but he’s “feeling much better,” according to Leyland.“He’s doing good,” he said. “He should be on time.”"
I think many a Detroit Tigers fan would love to see Don Kelly get the heave-ho when Jackson returns, but it’s much more likely that Avisail Garcia — the Tigers’ most MLB ready outfield prospect — will be sent back to the minor leagues. Garcia has an .875 OPS (with a home run) in eight plate appearances since his recall this season, but the organization is going to want him to get more playing time than he’s going to be able to get with the big club.
There’s a (very compelling) argument to be made that he should be starting pretty much everyday in center (instead of platooning with Kelly) right now, but even that argument goes out the window with the eventual return of Jackson. Garcia is (and will be) a better hitter than The Donald, but Kelly is better suited to be the MLB backup right now.
If nothing else, Garcia will join the roster in September when the minor league season ends, and could displace Kelly on a potential playoff roster. Of course, it’s also possible that Garcia is up before then should another injury arise. He’d be first in line to be an everyday outfielder should, say, Torii Hunter hit the disable list.