DETROIT -- Just when the Tigers seemed to have whittled down their lengthy injured list, Cameron Maybin re-injured his sprained left thumb. The speedy center fielder left Monday's 4-3 win over the White Sox with a thumb contusion after sliding into second base on a stolen-base attempt.
X-rays on the thumb were negative, the Tigers announced, but there was enough concern after the game to schedule Maybin for an MRI exam on Tuesday.
"It seems to be a little bit more behind where the [previous] injury was," manager Brad Ausmus said. "We're going to get a picture of it just in case and make sure, but it didn't seem to actually be where the ligament was, but more behind it, in the back of the hand."
Maybin returned a little more than a week ago after spending just over two weeks on the disabled list with a sprained left thumb, which was originally listed as a day-to-day injury. He admitted upon return that the thumb still bothered him swinging a bat, whether he connected with a pitch or missed, but he felt comfortable playing through it.
"We're trying to do something special," Maybin said earlier Monday. "We have a chance, and I feel like I'm a big part of it, and I've gotta be in the lineup, whether I'm 100 percent or not. It's going to affect some things that I do, but again, my effort's going to be there every day, my energy's going to be there every day. And that's really all I can do."
Maybin looked like he tweaked the thumb again fouling off a pitch in the fifth inning before he lined a one-out single to left, grimacing a bit at first base. Still, he took off for second base on James Shields' 3-1 pitch to Ian Kinsler. Shields missed for ball four, rendering Maybin safe regardless, but his slide jammed his left hand between the bag and second baseman Tyler Saladino's knee, bringing Maybin up in immediate pain. Head athletic trainer Kevin Rand didn't need a long look before removing him from the game.
Tyler Collins pinch-ran for Maybin and replaced him in center field.
The Tigers' injury list includes third baseman Nick Castellanos, out until at least mid-September, and starting pitchers Jordan Zimmermann and Mike Pelfrey, who are on rehab assignments with Triple-A Toledo. Maybin and shortstop José Iglesias returned last week, paring the list a bit, but any lengthy absence for Maybin removes a key player from the Tigers' lineup.
Maybin moved into the leadoff spot Monday, swapping with Kinsler in the batting order. Maybin's .329 average and .401 on-base percentage would lead the team if he had enough plate appearances to qualify.
"The first one hurts, any injury. Physically, it hurts. The second one, in the same spot, is always more painful," Kinsler said. "Hopefully there's not more damage. Hopefully we can get him back in the lineup soon. The sooner, the better. He's important to our team. He's important to the middle of the diamond and to getting things going on this team."
With rosters expanding on Thursday, the Tigers can hold off on a DL move and bring in reinforcements in time for Friday's series opener in Kansas City. Ausmus said they likely won't utilize the DL unless the MRI shows a longer-term injury. Collins and utilityman Andrew Romine are likely to fill in for the next day or two in center field.
Ausmus and general manager Al Avila were already scheduled to discuss potential September callups on Tuesday. Maybin's situation will likely have an impact on those decisions.
Opening Day center fielder Anthony Gose remains on the 40-man roster but has been at Double-A Erie since the All-Star break, batting .296 (24-for-81) for the SeaWolves in August, with four homers and 18 RBIs. JaCoby Jones, the Tigers' ninth-ranked prospect by MLBPipeline.com, has played mainly center field and third base at Triple-A Toledo, but is batting .243 (71-for-292) for the Mud Hens, with three homers, 23 RBIs and 97 strikeouts.