Tigers Notes: Platoons in CF and RF, Martinez to DL, Moya back in Toledo

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MLB: Spring Training-Detroit Tigers at Atlanta Braves
Mar 16, 2017; Lake Buena Vista, FL, USA; Detroit Tigers center fielder JaCoby Jones (40) reacts after hitting a home run against the Atlanta Braves in the second inning at Champion Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Opening Day is drawing even closer, final cuts are being made and rosters are being finalized as of this writing.

One thing Tigers fans can count on come Monday, April 3 is seeing youngster JaCoby Jones indeed cracking the 25-man roster out of spring training. And after competing for the position all spring, Jones will be patrolling center field, but only so often.

Tigers manager Brad Ausmus confirmed on Friday that Jones is on the big league roster. He did however suggest that Jones’ roster spot opened up primarily due to the injury of everyday right fielder J.D. Martinez. He has Jones for now platooning with Detroit’s super utility man and switch-hitter Andrew Romine.

Both Jones and Romine put together strong spring camps and ultimately gave the Tigers coaches and front office an opportunity they could not pass up. According to Ausmus, The right-handed hitting Jones will play when a left-handed pitcher is on the bump and vs. “some righties” as well.

Never the less, Ausmus likes what Jones brings to the table and things he can be a key piece to the Tigers racking up victories without overworking the youngin’.

“Certainly the injury to J.D. changed our plans a little bit,” Ausmus said. “We just feel like Jones’ defense would be a huge asset at Comerica. He swung the bat pretty well. I think it boils down to that.

“We certainly don’t want to stunt his development,” Ausmus said, but the first focus will be on winning. “We’re going to put the best lineup and defense out there, (the best) combination of those two factors that helps us win.

“We’re going to platoon right, semi-platoon center, see how it goes and hope J.D. comes back sooner than later.”

Ausmus also confirmed that, again due to the injury to Martinez, a platoon tandem of the left-handed hitting Tyler Collins and the right-handed hitting Mikie Mahtook will take place in right field.

This apparently was going to be the pure platoon for Opening Day, had Martinez not suffered a foot injury. But with Jones earning the spot and playing center field all spring, it was an easy move for Ausmus to just slide the Collins/Mahtook duo over to right field. Collins will face righties, while Mahtook will start against southpaws.

It should be little to no problem for either Collins or Mahtook making such a switch. Both have played a substantial number of games in their young careers at all three outfield positions.

TYLER COLLINS MIKIE MAHTOOK
CAREER DEF. INN. PLAYED 717.0 670.1
LF% 54.8% 32.8%
CF% 29.0% 36.1%
RF% 16.2% 31.1%

[Player stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference]

OTHER TIGERS NEWS AND NOTES

After reportedly being placed on outright waivers on Wednesday and concurrently missing a roster spot on the 25-man roster, outfielder Steven Moya cleared waivers and was optioned back down to Triple-A Toledo.

Moya this spring logged 56 at-bats in 22 games played, but mustered a .196 batting average. Four of his 11 spring hits were for extra bases, also driving in six runs. He simply did not put himself in a position for the Tigers coaches to bring him along to Chicago.

Because he’s back at Triple-A Toledo, expect him to be a prime candidate as the first position player called up, should an injury arise to an outfielder or even someone like Victor Martinez.

Landing in the same boat as Moya in the last couple days was left-handed reliever Daniel Stumpf, the Tigers’ Rule 5 Draft pick from this past offseason. Stumpf was also placed on waivers and subsequently cleared.

However, due to rules of Rule 5 picks, Stumpf must return to his former employer.

Stumpf was one of the final candidates for a left-handed relief role in the bullpen come Opening Day, but was ultimately beat out by Justin Wilson and Kyle Ryan. Stumpf this spring allowed four earned runs in 8.2 innings pitched, but opponents hit only .167 off him.

Lastly, the Tigers placed outfielder J.D. Martinez on the new 10-day disabled list with his foot injury.

Martinez was diagnosed with a sprain of his lisfranc ligament in his right foot just one week ago and it was determined that he will miss roughly a month of action.

The 10-day disabled list is one of the many new wrinkles of newly-signed collective bargaining agreement between the league and the players this winter. There’s no drastic changes to the rule, just that players are eligible to come off it as early as ten days from when they were first placed as on it, as opposed to 15.

It’s still one of three DL stints players can endure, along with the 7-day concussion DL and a 60-day DL. It’s the first time in over 30 years that MLB has had a 10-day disabled list as part of its CBA.

And in case you missed it earlier on Friday, the Tigers announced the signing of an old friend in catcher Bryan Holaday to a minor league deal.