Miguel Cabrera: Apres him, Le Inge.
It’s too early to know the exact extent of the injury, if any, but Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera took a one-hopper to the face in the first inning of Monday’s game against the Phillies and had to leave waving the bloody towel.
Subsequent reports on Twitter indicate that Cabrera did not suffer an eye injury, as initially thought, but suffered a cut under the eye by his sunglasses, which were fatally struck by the homicidal batted ball.
As I wrote the above, Jim Salisbury of Comcast Sportsnet tweeted that Cabrera is to get X-rays and stitches, so the threat of regular playing time for Brandon Inge has not yet been averted. Indeed, it is worth noting at this moment just how far the Tigers have to fall should Cabrera be lost for any length of time. They have one of the top hot-corner prospects in the game in Nick Castellanos, but he was at Low-A East Michigan last year and is nowhere near ready.
That leaves Inge and utility man Don Kelly to spell Cabrera.
It was the offensive capabilities of this duo that inspired the Tigers to trade for Wilson Betemit last year. Kelly, a 31-year-old journeyman, has had approximately a season’s worth of playing time for the Tigers over the last three seasons and has hit .245/.285/.374 with 16 home runs in 551 at-bats.
That’s actually a surprise given that he hit only 27 home runs in 3,105 minor-league at-bats.
Inge, of course, is a soon-to-be 35-year-old good-field, no-hit former catcher who is a career .235/.305/.388 hitter. He spent part of last season in the minors, his bat having slowed to a .211/.279/.386 pace. He was actually worse after returning, hitting .176/.244/.278 the rest of the way.
Back in the middle of the last decade, when Inge was at the top of his fielding range and was hitting decently (.265/.327/.443 from 2004 through 2006), he had some value, but there probably isn’t much more blood the Tigers can squeeze from this particular stone.
Ever since Prince Fielder signed, many fans have been anticipating he and Cabrera hitting back-to-back, one of the game’s most impressive left-handed power hitters paired with one if its best all-around hitters, period.
That does sound fun, but not nearly as fun as seeing a great deal less of Inge and Kelly. Stay tuned.
UPDATE: Jason Beck of MLB.com reports that Danny Worth would also be in the third base line of succession. Worth, a 2007 second-round pick, is a 26-year-old with career rates of .256/.322/.362 in the minor leagues. My point remains.