Injured Iglesias potentially facing long absence
According to report, young shortstop could miss four months with ailing shins
LAKELAND, Fla. -- While Jose Iglesias tried out a device for pain management on his ailing shins, the Tigers continued to look at their internal options for replacing him. The team is preparing for the possibility of a lengthy injury, with an ESPN report saying he could miss four months.
Manager Brad Ausmus had no medical update on Saturday, nor did the Tigers.
"At this time, I do not have anything to discuss on Iglesias' situation," team president, CEO and general manager Dave Dombrowski told MLB.com in an email. "Will have more in a few days."
At this point, with each day passing without progress, it's increasingly likely Iglesias won't be ready for Opening Day in just over two weeks. The discussion surrounding his situation is transitioning to how long he'll be out -- whether what is being termed a stress reaction in his shins remains a shorter-term issue or the sign of something more severe that puts most of his season at risk -- and what the Tigers do to fill the spot.
"We're in a little bit of a holding pattern," Ausmus said on Saturday morning.
"Depending on how long he's going to be out, we may or may not need two shortstops," Ausmus said. "If we need two shortstops, you probably can't carry an extra outfielder."
Iglesias saw a Lakeland-based foot-and-ankle specialist last week and received an adjustment in his orthotics that he has been wearing since at least last year. The initial adjustment, adding extra cushion under the foot, made an immediate difference according to Iglesias. However, he still hasn't been able to run without pain, which has led to another round of exams.
The shortstop saw another specialist for an additional opinion earlier this week. He also visited with a chiropractor on Friday in Winter Haven, Dr. Rick Smith, who specializes in pain management. He was provided with "a microcurrent machine with biofeedback," according to head athletic trainer Kevin Rand.
Iglesias' agent, Scott Boras, told MLB.com late Saturday night that Iglesias will see two specialists in the coming days to determine the best course of treatment for his shin condition.
Iglesias was to wear the device all day on Friday and into Saturday to see if it made a difference. He was in the Tigers' clubhouse in street clothes on Saturday morning, talking with teammates, but is limited to no physical activity.
His mood did not seem upbeat.
"I think he's frustrated, for sure, no question," Ausmus said. "He wants to play."
Torii Hunter was among the teammates who talked with Iglesias.
"Sitting down, talking to him every day, he's down, very down," Hunter said, "and it's our job as veterans to kind of lift him up. He wants to be out there so bad, and it's killing him."
Iglesias has had a history of shin issues, including last year before and after his July trade from Boston. When recurring pain sidelined him two weeks ago, the Tigers' medical staff aimed to find the root cause and address it once and for all. His absence since then has been longer than anyone expected, given the original diagnosis.
Friday's visit was aimed at managing the pain to a level that would get Iglesias get back to physical activity and able to run.
Utility men Steve Lombardozzi and Danny Worth and youngsters Hernan Perez and Eugenio Suarez have been starting at shortstop during Igelsias' absence. While Lombardozzi is set to make the team out of camp, a season-opening, disabled-list stint for Iglesias opens up a spot on the 25-man roster for one of the other three, though Worth would have to be added to the 40-man roster.
The fact that Ausmus approached the possibility of replacing Iglesias with two shortstops, not just one, reflects the possibility of a lengthy absence. Perez, Suarez and Worth all bat right-handed, while Lombardozzi is a switch-hitter. Perez batted .197 last season, partly as an injury fill-in for Omar Infante last July, partly as a September callup. The 22-year-old went 6-for-33 (.182) against right-handed pitching, with a walk and seven strikeouts. His lefty-righty splits in the Minor Leagues last year were virtually even.
Some combination of the above would likely get the Tigers through a stretch without Iglesias. A worst-case scenario, however, would lead the Tigers to discuss their options on the market -- possibly even free agent Stephen Drew.
Drew, part of Boston's World Series championship team, remains a man without a team, in part, because most clubs would have to give up a Draft pick -- in the Tigers' case, a first-round selection -- to sign him. The Draft choice, No. 23 overall, and the spending allotment that goes with it, has been a valued asset for Detroit, especially with a reportedly deep Draft pool this year.
Surrendering a Draft pick for a partial-year replacement is unlikely. A longer absence, and its impact on a contending club, changes the discussion.
The Tigers aren't there yet. Depending on the eventual diagnosis from the many specialists who have looked at Iglesias, the club could have a decision to make shortly.