DETROIT -- The Tigers placed first baseman and cleanup hitter C.J. Cron on the 10-day injured list Tuesday with a left knee sprain. But considering how his injury looked after he hit the ground on a ground ball Monday, there’s at least some relief in the chance he could play again this season.
The Tigers say they have no timetable for Cron to return. He sustained damage to a ligament in his knee, according to head athletic trainer Doug Teter. Cron is in a knee brace and received treatment throughout the day. He’ll progress back into activities as he can tolerate them.
Cron was in serious pain when he left the 5-1 win over the White Sox on Monday. Danny Mendick’s grounder hit Cron’s left leg and rolled up his body, knocking him to the ground.
Cron stayed down as pitcher Daniel Norris fielded the carom, sprinted toward the bag and made a diving tag to retire Mendick and end the inning as Cron stayed on the ground.
“It hit on the knee and then kind of ricocheted off,” Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire said. “It squared him up."
Head athletic trainer Doug Teter and Gardenhire helped Cron back to his feet and off the field, trying to keep weight off his left leg. Cron hobbled on his own power from the foul line to the dugout, but he hopped down the dugout steps on his right leg to keep weight off his left.
Cron has been a big reason behind the Tigers’ offensive improvement this season, with four home runs and eight RBIs despite a .190 (8-for-42) average. He hit a go-ahead home run in the ninth inning for a win over the Reds on July 26 in Cincinnati, and he homered on back-to-back nights over the weekend in Pittsburgh.
For now, Candelario is first in line to play at first base. But Gardenhire is wary of tinkering with an infield defense that has been vastly improved with Candelario at third base.
“We don’t really have an alternate plan at first base,” Gardenhire said. “He’s got to be the guy right now.”
On those days, third base will be a rotation between Lugo, Harold Castro and possibly Willi Castro. Harold Castro will also play some at first base.
“I don’t want to take Candy completely away from third base,” Gardenhire said. “He’s playing really, really good baseball. It’s been good chemistry out there, and we’ve been playing really good defense. … We’re trying to keep it as small of a move as we possibly can, because it’s been working pretty good.”
Gardenhire also didn’t rule out an occasional return to first base for Miguel Cabrera, who started 26 games at first base last season but was almost exclusively a designated hitter over the second half to limit the wear and tear on his knees.
“I guarantee you he wants to get out there,” Gardenhire said. “I want him to play all year. He might get out there. I don’t know. He might talk me into it and go over there and play a game or two. I know he wants to. He takes ground balls all the time. That’s good that he wants to, though.”
“I didn’t even run full speed after I got to third base. I kind of jogged home,” he said. “This is a huge park. If you mess up in center field and it gets by you, it’s pretty much an inside-the-parker for anyone unless you’re just Franklin the Turtle.”
• With Cron out, Jonathan Schoop will get the first crack at batting cleanup behind Miguel Cabrera. Schoop had been batting second in front of Cabrera and Cron.