By Ashley Dunkak
COMERICA PARK (CBS DETROIT) – The Detroit Tigers had considered making Ezequiel Carrera part of their outfield long before a spot opened up Thursday thanks to the blockbuster trade that sent center fielder Austin Jackson to Seattle.
“[Carrera] was originally talked about in spring training as a possibility of making the team,” Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said, “and then there was the situation where we were debating at the time we called J.D. Martinez up whether to call Carrera up instead, the reason being we needed a left-handed bat and he’s a left-handed hitter, but we decided we also could use a little bit of thump, a la the fifth spot in the lineup, and J.D. had been particularly hot with the bat, so we went with J.D. at the time.”
Carrera has a .307 batting average and an on-base percentage of .387 over 97 games with the Triple-A Toledo Mud Hens this season. He has also stolen 43 bases, and Ausmus spoke highly of Carrera’s defensive ability and speed as well.
“He can run, he can certainly steal bases, go first to third, score from first on a double,” Ausmus said. “He’s got the ability to bunt, bunt for a hit. He’s more kind of an action player. He makes things happen and uses his feet to, at times, wreak havoc.”
The loss of Jackson stings, but Ausmus said he believes fans will be pleasantly surprised with Carrera.
“I think you’ll be surprised at how good Carrera is in center field when he’s there,” Ausmus said. “Yeah, we lost a little bit defensively, probably, overall, and a little bit offensively, especially the way Jackson was swinging the bat, but you don’t get something for nothing, and you certainly don’t get a David Price for nothing. We gave a little something up there, but we think we gained more in return.”
How much Carrera will play — he will share center field with Rajai Davis — is still up in the air.
“It’s tough to say because quite frankly I can’t tell you how many at bats he’ll end up with or how often he’s going to play,” Ausmus said. “I think a lot of it will depend on how Raj plays and when he needs a break and when Carrera gets in there how he plays. I really couldn’t give you anything concrete.
“He can pinch-run, he can pinch-hit, especially if he’s leading off an inning, he could go in as a defensive replacement. There’s a number of roles he could fill, but again, we’re still in motion here,” Ausmus added. “We don’t exactly know when or how he’s going to be used. It could be a situation where it’s like J.D. — he gets the opportunity to play and he plays well and he forces himself into the lineup every day. I don’t know if that will happen, but it’s certainly a possibility.”