DETROIT--Promptly following a 5-2 home loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday, Detroit Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski said that left fielder Andy Dirks will be out for 12 weeks to undergo back surgery.
The sudden announcement puts the Tigers short a crucial left-handed hitter, desperately needed in a team that already has too few lefties.
The loss of Dirks in left field will likely move Rajai Davis--the Tigers' recent acquisition and speed demon on the bases--into the left field role full time. Davis has a .268 average in eight years in the majors with an OPS of .693 but his road-runner abilities are what the Tigers hired him for.
Davis stole 45 bases last year and stated that he's actually gotten faster, something which he thinks will allow him to steal even more than last year.
Don Kelly, who was fighting for a spot on the daily roster, is now all but guaranteed to fill the backup slot.
Steve Lombardozzi has been showing some promise in spring training and may get more playing time than previously expected with the news that Dirks will miss so much time. How he finishes out March will factor into that.
Another prospect the Tigers can use is Daniel Fields, but he's not as play-ready as the Tigers would like at this point. The announcement leaves the Tigers outfield, already light on coverage, nearly dry at this point.
Rajai Davis and Don Kelly will need to step up to the plate in a big way, and the younger players the Tigers were hoping to ease into the organization may need to buck up sooner rather than later.