Cron to have season-ending knee surgery

August 15th, 2020

DETROIT -- Tigers first baseman C.J. Cron’s season is over. The veteran slugger will undergo surgery to repair his injured left knee suffered on Monday.

Cron, who hit four home runs and posted an .894 OPS in 13 games for Detroit after signing as a free agent in December, knew he would need surgery at some point, but he hoped to be able to play out the season after rehabbing his knee. Those hopes were soon dashed.

Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire announced the news Saturday afternoon.

“This is a thing that needed to get fixed so he would have stability out there on the field,” Gardenhire said. “It’s not going to be one of those short-termers. It’s going to take a little while to heal this thing and get it fixed. We kind of had that feeling. I’ve talked to him a couple of times and he told me this is probably the right thing for his career and himself to make sure he gets well.”

Cron sent out a message to fans via Twitter moments later.

“It is with much frustration to inform you all that I am undergoing season-ending knee surgery to stabilize my patella,” Cron wrote. “When I signed with Detroit, my main goal was to bring competitiveness to an organization that is historically great. I wanted to take some pressure off the younger players and allow them to realize their potential. To give this organization a step in a positive direction.

“It saddens me that my season has to end like this just 13 games in. Due to Covid-19 protocols I’ll be supporting the team from afar. Thank you all for the well wishes!”

Cron suffered the injury while trying to field a ground ball in Monday’s win over the White Sox. When Cron went to ground to field the ball, he tore a ligament in his knee.

“I think when I went down, my kneecap kind of popped out of place there for a little bit,” Cron said Wednesday. “I was just told it's a stabilizer. It's one of the ones on the inside of the knee that stabilizes the kneecap in place. Everything else looked OK, though.”

Cron hoped to return at some point, but he said the kneecap could pop out again. In the end, surgery was the only option.

“He’s going to try to get this done so he can prepare for next year,” Gardenhire said. “I wish him nothing but the best. It was a pleasure having him here. It’s nice when you get to manage a guy like that, a class act. He’s doing the right thing for himself and his career.”

The 30-year-old Cron was one of a quartet of veteran hitters brought in to bolster a Tigers offense that ranked at or near the bottom of the American League in most major categories last year. The former Twins, Rays and Angels slugger signed a one-year deal for a chance to be a focal point in the lineup. He made an impact in his brief time, including a go-ahead home run in the ninth inning to beat the Reds on July 26.

With Cron out, Jeimer Candelario will transition to first base full-time while the Tigers sort out their options at third base. Candelario has rebounded from an 0-for-17 July by batting .394 (13-for-33) in August entering Saturday, including an AL-best three triples, two doubles, a home run and five RBIs.

“Jeimer will be over there,” Gardenhire said. “We have a couple other guys we can maybe show a little bit how to play first base, but we did that last year and the year before, and I’m kind of tired of that stuff. Candy’s done it before, and right now he’s going along OK. The more experience he gets over there, he’ll be better.”