Shortly before their series finale against the Baltimore Orioles, word from Detroit Tigers manager Brad Ausmus is that the team will place designated hitter Victor Martinez on the paternity list for the birth of his third child.
Victor Martinez will be leaving after today's game to join family for birth of their third child. He'll go on paternity leave list.
— Jason Beck (@beckjason) May 18, 2017
Martinez on the season has really come on strong over the last couple weeks. He’s hitting at a near .340 clip over his last 16 games played, which has upped his season batting average to .269 following a slow start. His 21 runs batted in are second only to Nick Castellanos on the team.
Players placed on paternity leave may miss anywhere between 1-3 games. After Baltimore leaves town, Detroit will welcome in a red-hot Texas Rangers (21-20) ball club that has won eight straight games entering Thursday.
So who might the Tigers borrow in a pinch during the absence of Martinez? Here are three suggestions:
John Hicks seems to be the favorite in the clubhouse, given his cup of coffee with Detroit earlier in the season. The 27-year-old played in seven games for Detroit, going 11 for 26 with four extra-base hits, including his first career home run, and seven RBI.
Hicks was optioned back to Triple-A Toledo after Tigers’ first baseman Miguel Cabrera was reinstated from the disabled list. Since returning to the Mud Hens, he’s hit .263 over nine games.
When Texas rolls into the Motor City, they will be starting right-handed pitchers in all three games. Should Detroit want to add a big bat from the left side and play that match-up, Efren Navarro could become a worth candidate for calling up.
Navarro, 31, has been very solid for Toledo so far this season, hitting .305 with an .861 OPS in 37 games played. His eight doubles and 25 RBI both lead the Mud Hens. Signed to a minor league deal this past offseason by Detroit, Navarro would come in with modest big league experience. He’s logged 130 games in the show spanning parts of four seasons (2011, ’13-’15), all with the Los Angeles Angels.
However, should Detroit choose to call up Navarro, a subsequent roster move would have to be made because Navarro is not on the team’s 40-man roster.
Detroit could recall rookie JaCoby Jones if they want to get a little creative in terms of a lineup.
Jones was optioned back down to Toledo after his DL stint earlier in the season. In his 17 games with the Mud Hens since returning to action, he’s hit .273 with four doubles, three homers and ten RBI.
Like Hicks and unlike Navarro, Jones is already on the 40-man roster so it’d be just a simple call-up. But Detroit could promote Jones and have him man center field for the weekend series against the Rangers, slide Andrew Romine/Tyler Collins/Mikie Mahtook over to either corner spot and allow Justin Upton or J.D. Martinez to DH.
OTHER OPTIONS: Alex Presley (left-handed hitting outfielder) or a handful of bullpen arms (Arcenio Leon, Buck Farmer, Daniel Stumpf, Joe Jimenez, Bruce Rondon)