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Tigers 'struggled' to find Ezequiel Carrera a path to Detroit

The Detroit Tigers finally found a place for Ezequiel Carrera, however you shouldn't expect him to get a significant amount of playing time.

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

DETROIT — The Tigers have been looking for a way to bring Ezequiel Carrera to Detroit, but until Thursday there was just no room in the lineup for the center fielder who has flourished in Triple-A Toledo.

Carrera arrived in Detroit on Friday after the Tigers acquired David Price for center fielder Austin Jackson, and he was all smiles in the batting cage just prior to the game.

First base coach Omar Vizquel said Carrera hasn't stopped smiling, and it's easy to see why. After hitting for .307 with a .387 on-base percentage and .422 slugging average for the season at Triple-A Toledo, Carrera was given the opportunity he had been trying to achieve since this spring.

Although brief, Carrera made his first appearance as a Tiger in the top of the ninth inning Friday night. Because Rajai Davis will get the bulk of the playing time in center field, don't expect Carrera to get a significant amount of playing time, but at least the Tigers have found a place for him in Detroit.

"Carrera's had a real fine season in Triple-A," Tigers president and general manager Dave Dombrowski said. "We've actually struggled on how to get him up to the big league club at times because we kept saying this guy can help us up here right now."

Since being with the Mud Hens, Carrera had been on a roll with the bat, on the field, and he has the ability to steal bases. In fact, he had a minor league-leading 43 stolen bases as of July 31. Spring training didn't go the same way, however, and when the time came for the Tigers to make the first round of cuts in March, Carrera was among them.

Assigned to minor league camp at the time, Carrera was then placed with Toledo for the season so he could make improvements. Now that he's with Detroit we'll have to wait and see if his minor league season will transfer over to the big leagues, but Carrera made a strong case for why he deserved to be called up.

Carrera isn't Jackson by any means, and Dombrowski knows that, but he also doesn't expect there will be a significant drop in offensive production now that center field is being platooned between Davis and Carrera.

After seeing what the Oakland Athletics and the Los Angeles Angels gave up in each of their respective trades to improve their rosters, the Tigers were well aware that they were going to have to give up something of significant value to acquire Price. In doing so, they were going to need someone within their system that could fill in right from the get-go.

"It's difficult, but I think you weigh it," Dombrowski said. "You have to weigh it. We don't make that deal unless Austin's (Jackson) involved."

While the loss of Jackson will likely cause a loss of production at the plate and on the field to some degree, fortunately for the Tigers, they've had a decent farm system this season. Dombrowski anticipates Carrera's speed on the basepaths as well as on the field to give the Tigers solid coverage without losing too much of what Jackson brought to Detroit.

Of course, the fact that Carrera is a left-handed hitter doesn't hurt, either.