NEW YORK — He’s not the focus of the Tiger lineup anymore. He’s not the Tigers’ MVP candidate, or even the second choice.
But Magglio Ordonez can still do a lot for the Tigers, as he showed in a 3-for-3 night that helped lead to four of the runs in Sunday’s 5-3 win over the Yankees.
Good thing for them he didn’t go home. Good thing for him.
That’s go home, as in for good. That’s go home, as in retire.
“I almost hung it up,” Ordonez revealed Sunday.
His right ankle, the one that required surgery after he broke it in July 2010, just wasn’t responding. He didn’t feel right.
He wasn’t hitting.
“When I was playing, I didn’t enjoy the game,” he said. “And I play with my heart.”
This was three or four months ago, Ordonez said Sunday. The 37-year-old outfielder said he talked it over with his family, and decided to be patient, and hope that the ankle would respond in time for him to help the Tigers later in the season.
It did. And he did.
On Aug. 12, Ordonez was hitting .224. From that point on, he played in 21 games and hit .365.
“I feel normal, like before,” he said.
Like before he got hurt, he means. And while he may not have the power he had earlier in his career, Ordonez looks a lot more like the guy who could always get a hit, the guy who hit .363 and finished second in the MVP race in 2007.
And not like the guy who couldn’t get his still-hurting legs under him for much of the season.
“It’s like a car,” he said. “When you have a flat tire, it’s hard for it to run.
“Now, the tire has a lot of air in it.”
Now, he’s happy he didn’t go home. And now, the Tigers would agree.