DETROIT — For the second time this month, the Tigers placed catcher Wilson Ramos on the 10-day injured list with a lumbar spine strain. This time, his IL stint will likely last a while.
Lefty reliever Derek Holland was reinstated from the 10-day IL to fill Ramos’ roster spot. The move bumps the Tigers’ bullpen back to nine relievers, while leaving Jake Rogers and Eric Haase as Detroit’s catchers.
The Tigers also sent veteran center fielder JaCoby Jones to Triple-A Toledo and recalled outfielder Victor Reyes from the Mud Hens.
Ramos, 33, had a 10-day stint on the IL for a previous back injury before returning last Monday. He caught only one game and served as Detroit’s designated hitter for five others, but his struggles — he went 2-for-23 with no extra-base hits and six strikeouts — indicated something was off.
“It’s something he reported [Sunday] night as we were getting on the plane to head back to Detroit,” manager A.J. Hinch said. “He looked a little uncomfortable throughout the day. He just said things weren’t right and he didn’t feel good; it had been bothering him a little bit.
“He didn’t look as healthy as he looked earlier in the season, so we had a long talk today about what was best for him and what was best for us, and the fact he’s going out there less than 100 percent doesn’t work. He didn’t want to perform the way he was performing. He admitted the back was bothering him a little more than he admitted before, and we came to the conclusion that we’ve got to get it right this time.”
Ramos will go through a full rehab process before he’s cleared to return, Hinch said.
Jones’ demotion is the second time this month the Tigers have sent out a veteran player in a roster shakeup after returning from a road trip, having outrighted reliever Buck Farmer two weeks ago.
The 29-year-old Jones has been a regular member of the Tigers’ roster since 2018, but he hasn’t been able to build on an encouraging but injury-shortened 2020 season. He’s batting .170 (17-for-100) with two homers, nine RBIs, five walks and 42 strikeouts.
“My message to him was, ‘We’ve got to go get it figured out at the level below us in Triple-A,’” Hinch said. “I don’t think he’s a Triple-A player. I think it’s a place to go and find his swing and find his approach. The 40-percent strikeout rate, the swing-and-miss inside the zone, some of the empty at-bats became too much for us here.”
Though a spat of injuries to center fielders around the league sparked trade speculation, Jones’ offensive struggles all but ruled out a deal.
Reyes had similar struggles before he was optioned to Toledo two weeks ago, and he hit .391 (18-for-46) in 12 games for the Mud Hens.
“He controlled the strike zone a little bit better in Triple-A and was able to have some good at-bats,” Hinch said. “[Mud Hens manager] Tom Prince was very complimentary of his approach and of his baserunning, of his play in the outfield. He took it to heart that he needed to go down and perform in order to get back. I think that warrants an opportunity.”