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The Left Field M*A*S*H Unit

First, Craig Monroe left last night's game with back spasms, after grounding out to second base in the fifth inning. Not to be harsh, but that didn't seem like a big deal. While he's getting treated with some ice (and maybe a muscle relaxer or anti-inflammatory), the Tigers have the situation covered by moving Marcus Thames to left field and bringing Sean Casey to play first base. Easy breezy, right?

And then, in the bottom of the eighth, Thames dives forward to catch Joe Mauer's sinking line drive, which very likely prevents the tying run from scoring. The play of the game, right?

But it came with a price, as Thames rolled over in obvious pain, clutching his left hamstring. Replays showed him grimacing as soon as he bent forward to make the catch, driving his left leg with his full weight into that Metrodome FieldTurf.

Echoing the wishful/hopeful thinking of Tigers fans everywhere, Rod Allen speculated that Thames had suffered a cramp. But if you saw Jim Leyland's post-game remarks to the press, you know the diagnosis might be significantly more dire:

"Not good. I'm really not sure I hadn't screwed that [move] up, to be honest with you. I could've left Raburn in the game and put Grandy in center field in Marcus' spot, but I kept thinking about Marcus' long ball. If they tied it up or something, Marcus would've been coming up. But who knows, Raburn might not have caught it. But the catch might be a little expensive, because he's not good."

Surely, we'll know more by game time this afternoon. And maybe this time, the injury bug won't bite the Tigers as harshly as it has most of the season (with the pitching staff, especially).

If the injury is serious, it's a heartbreaking development for Thames and a frustrating one for the Tigers. Thames was thriving with the increased playing time he wanted so badly, while the team benefited by getting some much needed and long awaited production from left field. Keep those fingers crossed and kiss your lucky Tiger paw.