MLB Playoffs: Omar Infante Expected to Start Despite Thumb Injury

By Chris Katje
Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE

Detroit Tigers fans were holding their breath in the ninth inning of Game 3 of the ALCS. Fans had already seen starting pitcher Justin Verlander leave the game after giving up a solo home run. Fans then saw new closing pitcher Phil Coke give up two singles. Later, it was realized that starting second baseman Omar Infante had injured his thumb in the ninth inning of the game that put the Tigers up 3-0 in the ALCS.

Official reports say Infante jammed his thumb. X-Rays came back negative that the starting second baseman had broken any bones in the thumb. With everything going right for the Tigers, except for closing pitcher Jose Valverde, Infante’s news was enough of a scare for some fans. Infante injured himself while diving for a ground ball hit by Mark Teixeira in the ninth inning. Teixeira reached base on the play with a single.

Losing Infante for the postseason would be a big blow for the Tigers. If Infante is unable to go Wednesday night, the Tigers will look to Danny Worth, Don Kelly, or Ramon Santiago. Infante played 64 games for the Tigers, and put up a batting average of .257. In eight postseason contests this year, Infante has a .267 batting average. Worth played in 43 regular season games posting a .216 average. Kelly put up a .186 batting average in 75 contests playing infield and outfield positions, and even catcher as the Tigers ultimate utility man. Santiago played in 93 games with a batting average of .206.

It would appear the Tigers would look to Don Kelly at second base. Kelly has been clutch when called upon and despite the poor batting average has come through when it mattered. He has one RBI and two runs scored in the postseason, despite not having an official credited at bat. Santiago on the other hand has the experience in the postseason, and has a career batting average of .240 in the MLB Playoffs.

Over the course of the 2012 season, Infante played 149 games with a batting average of .274. The Tigers acquired Infante around the trade deadline this season to solidify their playoff hopes and improve their worst statistical position on the team. Infante was brought over from the Miami Marlins in a deal that also gave the Tigers starting pitcher Anibal Sanchez. The Tigers gave up three key prospects in pitchers Brian Flynn and Jacob Turner, along with catcher Rob Brantly. Turner, once labeled untradeable, being moved showed the Tigers wish to fulfill their needs and also put the team in win now mode.

Acquiring Infante seemed like a smart move by the Tigers. After all, the second baseman played for Detroit the majority of his career. Infante played in Detroit for six seasons prior to his 2012 stint. His offense and defense helped the team clinch the AL Central title.

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