Oblique strain lands Sheffield on DL
Tigers to tab first baseman Larish to replace injured slugger
ANAHEIM -- Gary Sheffield has tried to play through his season-long shoulder problems and a finger injury that requires him to wear a splint. Monday's left oblique strain, however, finally landed him on the disabled list.
One day after the injury, the Tigers placed their regular designated hitter on the 15-day DL and announced they'll purchase the contract of slugging first baseman Jeff Larish from Triple-A Toledo. Detroit went a man short on the roster for Tuesday's 3-2 loss to the Angels before Larish joins the team prior to Wednesday's series finale.
Sheffield strained his left oblique muscle starting out of the batter's box on a ground ball in his second at-bat Monday. He pulled up about midway down the first-base line, grabbing at his left side, and turned to go into the dugout. He was pulled from the game and examined by doctors Tuesday afternoon.
A followup examination from a doctor on Tuesday confirmed the injury, prompting the roster move.
Sheffield had avoided a DL stint despite shoulder issues that have hampered him all season following surgery to repair a right labrum tear last fall. He also had been enduring a tendon tear in his right ring finger that has forced him to wear a splint to keep his finger straight. This latest injury, however, proved too much to play through.
"This is something that I've never had to deal with," Sheffield said. "It hurts to ride in the car. It hurts to sit down. It hurts to lay down. I mean, it just hurts doing anything. I try to sit in a situation where I'm most comfortable and stay there for the whole time. It's just miserable."
With all the issues this season, the 39-year-old owns a .213 batting average this season with three home runs and 12 RBIs in 39 games. However, he had shown signs of pulling out of what was essentially a season-long slump, going 8-for-19 over a four-game stretch before going 0-for-2 Monday.
"I start getting to the point where I can take extra batting practice and work on my swing and starting better, then this," Sheffield said. "I just have to weather the storm until it's over."
This latest injury should be out with 10 days of simple rest. Still, that's too many days for the Tigers to go short-handed.
Enter Larish, who has been one of the major catalysts behind a teamwide power surge in Toledo. His 16 home runs entering Tuesday ranked third in the International League, while his 43 RBIs ranked second. The left-handed hitter entered Tuesday with a .274 batting average on the year to go with a .589 slugging percentage and .989 OPS.
Along with fellow Mud Hens callup Matt Joyce, the 25-year-old Larish gives the Tigers some potential balance in a lineup heavily weighted toward right-handed hitters.
"I'm going to DH him some," manager Jim Leyland said. "He won't play [Wednesday], but I'll DH him [against right-handers]."
For the time being, however, Carlos Guillen is likely to serve as designated hitter until he's healthy. Leyland said that Guillen has been playing through hemorrhoids that have hampered his mobility for the last four to five days. Guillen committed two errors at third base on Monday, but also made a barehanded grab and throw on a slow roller later.
"He probably shouldn't have been out there [Monday]," Leyland said. "They're worse today. He could hardly walk last night. He's a trooper."
Guillen downplayed the malady when asked about it later. He said he saw a doctor a few days ago, and they decided to treat it with medication for the time being.
"In this game, you give 100 percent, but you don't feel 100 percent every day," Guillen said.
Of all the ailments Guillen has had -- he has had surgery on his knee and shoulder in his career and missed the start of the 2001 season with pulmonary tuberculosis -- this was a new one for him.
"Not fun," he summarized.
Brandon Inge started at third on Tuesday, which will likely be same arrangement on Wednesday against Angels left-hander Joe Saunders. Thus, Larish's big league debut might not come until Friday's series opener at Seattle, where the Mariners are scheduled to start right-hander Carlos Silva.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.