Brandon Inge’s time with the club was officially terminated when the club gave him his release following a 5-4 loss to the Mariners on Thursday. In addition, the club promoted Brad Eldred who slugged his way into the picture with a sizzling month at Toledo.
The tortoise-like start was not Inge’s fault solely. After a hot two weeks, Austin Jackson has cooled considerably. Brennan Boesch is hitting only .215. Prince Fielder has just four extra base hits the entire month and even Miguel Cabrera endured a 0-22 stretch. The lack of offensive production on the homestand triggered the club’s reaction.
A spark is clearly needed. Will Eldred provide it? We’ll find out soon enough. Jim Leyland said the 32 year-old will get some at bats immediately beginning this weekend in New York, and why not? Eldred was toying with International League pitching at the time of his call-up. He slammed 13 home runs with 35 RBI’s and posted a .388 average in just 20 games.
Certainly this April’s eye-popping numbers must represent the best streak of Eldred’s career, right? Or not.
“I hit 14 home runs in April one year at Double-A,” he said.
Well then, perhaps this is a pattern.
The 6’ 6” 270 pound Eldred uses his size to his advantage. “That’s one advantage to being a big guy,” he said. “If you square the ball up, it will go a long way.”
The numbers were too gaudy to ignore. The Tigers have too much invested in this team to sit by idly and let a slow April melt into a punch less May. So Eldred gets an opportunity and a message is sent to the rest of the club. If you can’t get the job done, we’ll look for someone who can.
Jim Leyland always says the big leagues are about production. Plain and simple. The sense of urgency though is different with this team. Having the youthful Mariners walk into Comerica Park and sweep is unacceptable. The fans are filling the park and underperforming is not an option.