Get Well Soon: A Hallmark Greeting for the Tigers

In football, there are the bone-crunching tackles and blind-sided sacks. Basketball always leaves you with a torn ACL or a twisted ankle. But baseball, I thought was supposed to be a thinking man's game. While many feel that baseball does not subject its players to injury; think about what is happening today in baseball - especially when looking at the Detroit Tigers.

I know how painful this sport can be from experience. While I was a sixteen year old I was playing first base. There was a slow roller to our third baseman and he threw the ball into the foul side of the bag where the base runner viciously collided with my left arm. A few hours and x-rays later and I would be sidelined with a hyper extended left elbow. By the way, I still need to thank Coach Limoges for letting me use his stirrup as a sling.

Anyway, two years later, and my team is in a tournament in Blue Springs, Missouri (Albert Pujols was the tourney MVP). During our fourth game we executed a pickoff play to perfection and I snuck behind the runner, however, his knee happened to nail me in the eye. So the next day—black eye and all—I found myself down in the count 0-2. The next pitch was a 90 mph fastball that turned my left hand into raw hamburger. While that pitcher ended up getting drafted a few years later, that would prove to be my last at bat ever. So don't tell me that baseball is for wimps; take a look at the Tigers and the predicament they find themselves in.

The first big break of the year (for American League pitchers) came when Dmitri Young rolled his leg on the Skydome turf. He now finds himself on the shelf for at least six to eight weeks. Even though the next two are less severe, I won't worry too much, however, they do put the Tigers in an awkward situation. In the third game of the Indians series, Alex Sanchez injured his groin. The next night Bobby Higginson rolled his ankle attempting to plant his foot to make a throw home. Sure, they might miss a game or so each, but they are not 100% and look at where these injuries leave the Tigers.

At the beginning of the year, the Tigers had five outfielders listed on their roster (Sanchez, Craig Monroe, Higginson, Rondell White, and Young). Thanks to the injury bug, the Tigers are left with only Monroe (4 errors) and White to patrol the outfield. As you may have noticed, super sub Brandon Inge has made his way into center field, but another utility man that has ventured out of the infield is Greg Norton. It doesn't take a baseball genius to know that outfield reads are difficult and can have any superior athlete who isn't weathered to patrolling the outfield to rove the open grasses like Magellan. As far as the defense goes, the Tigers can't afford to have any more problems with their outfielders. I would hate to see the likes of Chris Shelton, or even Jamie Walker subbing for any other wounded soldiers.

Defense aside, these injuries also create a huge offensive match up problem. While manager Alan Trammell had a luxury as he looked at his opening day roster to see comparable amounts of righties, lefties, or switch hitters, this is not so anymore. The Tigers are in the midst of facing Carlos Silva, Brad Radke, and Johan Santana, who are all right handed. The fact that the Tigers are short three left handed bats is huge, especially in late innings when needing situational hitting.

Don't complain too much, though. Other teams, especially in the division, are having their injury problems as well. The Royals are missing their double play combination of Berroa and Relaford, as well as many other pitchers. In Chicago the "Big Hurt" is a big hurt with a pulled hammy, and so is fellow team mate Jose Valentin. And then you have the Twins; they have proven that you can still win with injuries. Despite losing Gold Glover Torii Hunter, DH Matt LeCroy, and rookie phenom Joe Mauer, their other players have stepped up to lead them to six straight victories.

I still haven't mentioned the arm problems and pitching injuries that are probably the most common injury in baseball, but I will save that for another day. The main hope for optimism is that the Tigers are still winning and above .500. Plus, it is still April, so the Tigs should have these players back to 100% by the time the dog days of summer arrive. Just don't tell me that baseball is a sport for thinking men and wussies. Anyway, get well soon.


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