DETROIT – Ron Gardenhire’s behavior on Monday night did not match that of a manager who had just won his fourth game in a row in a clear, clear victory over a division opponent.
The Detroit Tigers defeated the Chicago White Sox 5-1 to open a three-game series at Comerica Park, but the victory was marred by what appeared to be a serious injury to first baseman CJ Cron.
Gardenhire shared no news after the game and said Cron was still being evaluated by medical staff. But if his behavior offered any indication, the news might not be good.
The Tigers signed Cron to a free agent deal over the winter and he has started all 13 games this season, hitting four home runs and playing solid defense on the first base.
If he is out for any length of time, Tigers have options, but not necessarily clear ones. Here’s a look at some of the possibilities Tigers might consider:
1. Give Lugos another chance.
After Cron was injured Monday night, Dawel Lugo entered the game in third base and Jeimer Candelario was transferred to first base. This is what the Tigers did late in 2019 and could very well be what they end up doing in the absence of Cron.
But it is far from an ideal solution.
Candelario was revealed to have been a very competent first baseman defender last year, but had several attacks Monday night. Lugo is probably a third baseman average at best.
Offensively, replacing the Cron stick with Lugo will represent a rather steep departure even under the most optimistic forecasts.
2. Return to Pareda.
Infield prospect Isaac Paredes is only 21 years old and has never taken a Major League title, but he has hit well at every level of the minor leagues and would certainly have been online for a year-end call if that would had been a “normal year”
Injury to Cron could allow the Tigers to move Candelario in the first place and take a longer look at Paredes in the third.
3. Go back to a veteran.
Brandon Dixon started more games in the first base than any other Tiger in 2019; he also ran the club in home runs.
Frank Schwindel is a Triple-A multiple striker who has never won many opportunities in the big leagues.
Both players are 28 and both are non-list players, who need to be added to the list of 40 people.
The advantage of this plan is that he will allow Candelario to remain in the third base, where he is calm and has played an excellent defense.
4. Turn on the infieldin.
Tigers like Willi Castro, who made his MLB debut last year and is currently in Toledo, but he is a midfielder with very little experience in third base.
One idea is to put Castro in a nutshell and move Niko Goodrum to the first base.
Obstacle: Goodrum has played well in defense and has earned a chance to see a brief look at the short step.
5. Another castro.
Don’t forget about Hittin ’Harold. Unfortunately he has been in an offensive slow start and has not achieved that much in 2020. He is also more valuable as a service man than an everyday player. But the Tigers could have imagined him in the third base and put Candelario in the first place. (Heck, they could even put Harold in the first base). It just does not seem possible.
6. Koha miggy?
Miguel Cabrera would love this plan: Just let me play the first base. Then you can play whoever you want in DH, maybe by rotating on a daily basis depending on the matches.
Pros: Cabrera is in excellent condition, and it is a short season, so saving his legs for a 162-game marathon is no longer a concern.
Cons: Cabrera is no longer the defensive player he once was. He is finally healthy and shakes the excellent naked, why suppress your destiny?
6 (b). What about Tork?
I am not even listing Spencer Torkelson’s last choice of numbers 1 as an option because I find it so impossible that it is barely worth mentioning. But I know people will ask, and I think the chance is greater than zero. But not so much bigger.
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