Jackson returns to Detroit after stint with HensWritten by Zach Davis | | firstname.lastname@example.org
While recovering from an injury, one of the more prominent members of the Detroit Tigers made his way through the Mud Hens lineup this week.
Detroit starting center fielder Austin Jackson played in two games this week for Toledo as he began his return to the major leagues on a rehab assignment.
“It felt pretty good getting back into the swing of things and kind of getting the blood flowing again,” Jackson said. “It was tough trying to get the timing back and I definitely wanted to see some pitches and wanted to swing a little bit too just to see if I felt anything. I didn’t have any pain so that’s definitely a good sign.”
Jackson was placed on the 15-day DL after he suffered an abdominal strain on May 16 at home against Minnesota. With Jackson in the lineup this season, Detroit boasts a record of 19-18. Without Jackson, the Tigers are just 8-14 in 2012.
“I thought Austin looked good,” Toledo starter Adam Wilk said. “He ran down balls where it just looks like he’s cruising but he’s flying around the outfield covering a lot of ground. Our outfield isn’t as big as it is in Detroit but it looks like he will be able to cover that ground again. He’s got his speed back and he looks fine in the outfield and at the plate.”
In 2012, Jackson is hitting .321 in the majors with 29 runs and 17 RBI. He has also hit five home runs and walked 20 times while striking out 30 times in 140 at bats. That walk-to-strikeout ratio of 0.67 is a career-high, over double that of last season’s mark of 0.31.
In his time at Toledo, Jackson went 1 for 8 at the plate with two strikeouts and was caught stealing once in two losses for the Mud Hens to Charlotte. His time in the lineup, however, was more about testing his body to see if he was ready. That test included seeing his reaction to swinging and missing on a pitch, running down fly balls and attempting to steal a base.
“His first at bat was probably the most telling one for us,” Toledo head coach Phil Nevin said. “To start out the game and swing and miss a couple times with those obliques, those are the ones that are going to get you some times. To see him swing and miss and feel fine his next at bats, he looked fine to me. He ran after a couple balls in the outfield and reached for them. He looked fine.”
With Jackson returning to Detroit he was immediately inserted back into the leadoff spot on June 9 against the Reds. Despite going 0 for 4 at the plate, Jackson and the Tigers edged out Cincinnati 3-2, grabbing their second win in the last six games.