DETROIT -- One fateful slide from Magglio Ordonez might have just shaken the Tigers' outlook heading into next weekend's Trade Deadline, their hopes in the AL Central race and their plans for 2011. The outfielder fractured his right ankle in Saturday's 3-2 loss to the Blue Jays, knocking him out for an estimated six to eight weeks.
An inning later, the Tigers suffered another potential blow to their playoff hopes when second baseman Carlos Guillen left with a strained right calf. Both players were placed on the 15-day disabled list Sunday morning.
The dual injuries impact the Tigers on many different levels. In the immediate term, Detroit needs depth for its day-night doubleheader against Toronto on Sunday, after which the Tigers embark on a critical seven-game, seven-day road trip at Tampa Bay and Boston.
When asked about the lineup after the game, Leyland had no immediate answers.
"We've got to revamp this whole thing right now," he said. "You're asking questions I can't give you the answers to."
To take the place of Ordonez and Guillen on the roster, Tigers on Sunday purchased the contracts of slugging corner infielder Jeff Larish and second baseman Will Rhymes from Detroit's Triple-A team, the Mud Hens. Larish, a Tiger for parts of the past two seasons before being taken off the 40-man roster over the offseason, was batting .275 with 15 home runs and 55 RBIs for the Hens.
Rhymes, 27, had never been in the Majors, but he hit his way to the big leagues this season. His .304 batting average ranks fifth in the International League to go with a league-high six triples, 19 doubles, 34 RBIs and 20 stolen bases.
To create room on the club's 40-man roster for Larish and Rhymes, the Tigers released right-hander Billy Buckner and designated right-hander Casey Fien for assignment.
The Tigers will have to regroup as a team, and in a hurry. Despite Saturday's loss, the Tigers remain 2 1/2 games behind the White Sox in the American League Central. However, Minnesota's win at Baltimore Saturday night dropped Detroit into third place, a half-game behind the Twins.
"We are still in this thing," Johnny Damon said. "But we need to be better, especially when we have Magglio out for a very long time. Carlos left the game tonight. Obviously, we lost Inge last week. We have to try and figure it out."
Ordonez's ankle had been the sore for a week, and it limited him to the designated-hitter role in three of the past four games. While Ordonez could play, Leyland wanted to keep him out of the field until he felt fine moving around.
There was little to protect him on the basepaths, where an aggressive play proved costly. Ordonez was on first base in the third inning when Miguel Cabrera lined a double off the out-of-town scoreboard in right-center field.
Austin Jackson scored easily on the hit, and third-base coach Gene Lamont waved Ordonez home. But Jays second baseman Aaron Hill fired a strike to catcher John Buck ahead of Ordonez, who tried to slide around Buck's tag.
As Ordonez dropped into his slide, the spikes of his right shoe caught the ground and stopped his foot while the rest of his body kept moving. He immediately grabbed at his ankle and tried unsuccessfully to get up as the Blue Jays headed back into the dugout.
Eventually, head athletic trainer Kevin Rand and assistant trainer Steve Carter helped Ordonez off the field, avoiding pressure on his ankle, and back into the clubhouse.
"When I saw it on TV, I saw his right foot go another direction," Damon said. "I was hoping it was just a sprain. Unfortunately, it was more severe."
Ordonez was not available for comment.
Ramon Santiago pinch-hit for Ordonez once the DH spot came back around in the fifth inning. Soon after that, Guillen had to leave the game. No timetable on his injury was available.
"His calf tightened up, big knot in it," Leyland said. "And it was awful sore when the trainer pressed on it."
The timing couldn't be much worse. Near the end of next week's road trip comes the Deadline, which could now take on a whole new look. The Tigers were already pondering what they could do to help their bullpen with Joel Zumaya out for the season, who they could potentially add to their rotation, and if they should attempt to acquire a third baseman with Inge out four-to-six weeks. Ordonez's injury opens a major hole in the middle of the lineup, right in front of AL MVP candidate Cabrera.
Damon usually slides down from his usual second spot in the order on days when Ordonez is off, so that could be the quick answer now. He could be back in left field on an everyday basis instead of DH, shifting rookie Brennan Boesch to right. Or the Tigers could add an outfield bat to their wish list on the trade market. Or the Tigers could give a chance to Larish and his left-handed power bat.
Thanks to Ordonez's injury and his implications in his contract, they'll have a whole other decision at season's end. Ordonez has a $15 million option for 2011 that automatically vests if he plays in 135 games or has 540 plate appearances. Saturday's injury all but ensures that won't happen, making it a club option. If the Tigers decline the option, Ordonez would become a free agent.
All those decisions are for later. The Tigers have to have some short-term tunnel vision for now. They have to get through two games on Sunday first.
"Nobody's going to feel sorry for us," Leyland said. "I'm not going to feel sorry for us. We're going to go out and play. We're going to play our tails off and see how many games we can win and not look back. Everybody gets tested in this game, and this is a test for us. That's just the way it is. You move on."
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.