C.J. Cron’s knee injury has created a giant hole in the Detroit Tigers’ lineup.
And the Tigers could spend the remainder of the season trying to fill it.
Detroit will head into a three-game weekend home series against the Cleveland Indians on Friday with their first baseman on the injured list, where he’ll remain indefinitely.
Cron has a damaged knee ligament and a dislocated kneecap and will eventually need surgery surgery. He still hopes to return before that surgery, though. He was injured trying to field a grounder on Monday.
“I think with the injuries I’ve had, this one is definitely the most uncertain,” Cron said, according the Detroit News. “The way the knee buckled, it’s tough to say how it’s going to respond. It’s tough to say how stable it’s going to be moving forward. There is no legitimate timetable.”
Cron was one of three free agents, along with second baseman Jonathan Schoop and catcher Austin Romine, that the Tigers signed during the offseason to provide stability to their lineup. Manager Ron Gardenhire had regularly penciled Cron into the cleanup spot.
Cron responded to the role with four homers and three doubles in 13 games with an .894 OPS.
“This was really the first time in my career where I was slotted in there every day and playing every day,” Cron said. “I was allowed to make mistakes and learn from them and go through the ebbs and flows of a season being an everyday player. To go down like this (stinks) pretty bad, especially how the boys are playing, We’re playing well, hitting the ball really well and I’m confident they’ll continue to do that.”
Without Cron, Gardenhire has been forced to improvise. Jeimer Candelario may get the majority of starts at first base, though the Tigers would prefer to leave him at third base. Schoop and Christin Stewart have batted in the cleanup spot in the first two games Cron missed.
The Tigers lost both of those games to the Chicago White Sox, dropping their record to 9-7. Right-hander Ivan Nova, who won his last start by holding down the Pittsburgh Pirates, will start Friday’s series opener.
Nova (1-0, 5.74) struggled through that outing, allowing five runs in five innings on Saturday. He has started seven times against Cleveland during his career, posting a 3-3 record and 4.22 ERA.
The Indians are also slightly above .500 at 10-9 despite dropping their last two games to the Chicago Cubs. They’re fortunate to be in that position, considering their offensive struggles.
Cleveland has scored two or fewer runs in 12 games. Manager Terry Francona expects the team-wide slump to end soon.
“We do have guys with good track records and they are healthy,” Francona told MLB.com. “They’re going to hit. I’ve said this to you guys for eight years, guys get to their level. That’ll be fun to watch and it will really help us. I hope it starts Friday.”
Aaron Civale (1-2, 2.84), who will start Friday, has delivered quality starts in all three of his outings. He gave up just one run in seven innings against the Chicago White Sox last Friday but the Indians were blanked 2-0.
Civale gave the Tigers fits in his rookie season last year. He started three games against them and won two decisions while giving up just three runs in 20 2/3 innings.
Both teams had a rare day off Thursday in this condensed season. The Tigers were supposed to play a makeup doubleheader against St. Louis but it was postponed due to the Cardinals’ ongoing issues with positive COVID-19 tests.
–Field Level Media