Detroit Tigers center fielder Cameron Maybin will miss 4-6 weeks of action after being hit with a pitch that broke his left hand.
Cameron Maybin had to exit Tuesday’s exhibition game after being hit in the hand by a pitch in his first plate appearance of the spring. The Detroit Tigers initially ruled the injury a “left hand contusion” but further evaluation revealed a hairline fracture.
The injury is to his non-throwing hand, so that might help him return faster, but hand injuries can be dangerous for hitters. If it doesn’t heal fully, it could cause aggravation for the entire year and sap a batter of his ability.
Four weeks would put Maybin’s return around April 1, five days before opening day. Six weeks would push his return back to the middle of April. Either way, it would seem likely that Maybin would need a minor league rehab assignment to get plate appearances under his belt before making his 2016 debut with the Tigers. This injury is effectively ending his spring training before he could get started.
The injury to Maybin will shift the majority of center field duties back onto Anthony Gose. It was expected that Gose and Maybin would enter into some sort of platoon in 2016. Gose, a left-handed hitter, would start the majority of games against right-handed pitchers and Maybin, a right-handed hitter, would generally start the games against lefties.
That’s out the window for the moment as Gose is now the only player on the 40-man roster with the ability to play center field in the majors with any regularity. The Tigers will probably want to open the season with someone on their bench who could fill in defensively in an emergency, however.
Wynton Bernard made the majority of his AA starts in center field last season, but it’s unlikely that he’d be able to be any sort of hitter against major league pitching at this point. Tyler Collins has played some center field in the minor leagues, but he’s certainly better suited for a corner. As an emergency option though, he might work as well. Utility man Mike Aviles played five games in center for the Cleveland Indians last season (and made three starts), so maybe he’d see time if Gose went down late in a game.
At any rate, the Detroit Tigers can’t afford many bad breaks this season if they hope to ultimately win the division. Let’s hope Maybin can return to full health quickly.