DETROIT -- The Tigers lost another player to the disabled list when they placed catcher James McCann on the 15-day DL with a right ankle sprain. But considering the look of the injury when McCann tried to avoid a first-base collision in Monday's 7-4 loss to the Pirates, they're feeling fortunate he didn't suffered a worse injury.
"They're calling it a Grade 2 sprain, which is generally two to four weeks," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "But the next 24-48 hours should give us a better idea."
That's when the swelling will have reduced in the ankle. Still, as McCann hobbled into the clubhouse on crutches, his right foot in a boot with what he called the first significant injury of his baseball career, he's optimistic.
"It could've been a lot worse," he said.
McCann was trying to beat out a single on a fifth-inning flare to second base. Josh Harrison's throw led first baseman John Jaso into McCann's path as he reached toward the line to grab the ball.
McCann was charging as Jaso reached, forcing McCann to try to change his path at the last second. McCann stumbled awkwardly on the bag. Replay showed his right foot hit the side of the bag and turn, turning the ankle with it.
"It just happened so fast," McCann said. "I think at the last second I kind of looked up and tried to adjust my path. I hit the side of the bag and just rolled my ankle pretty good."
McCann tumbled to the ground behind the bag as first-base umpire Gabe Morales ruled him out. McCann walked off the field on his own power, followed by head athletic trainer Kevin Rand. Backup Jarrod Saltalamacchia replaced McCann behind the plate for the sixth inning.
Saltalamacchia, signed in December to give the Tigers a veteran backup, will get the bulk of the starts while McCann is out. The Tigers purchased the contract of Bobby Wilson from Triple-A Toledo to fill McCann's spot and back up Saltalamacchia.
As for McCann, he'll travel with the team on its upcoming road trip to Pittsburgh, Houston and Kansas City. He'll continue to assemble scouting reports on opposing hitters, a role he took on midway through last season.
"I'll be on the road trip to get treatment, and I'll be on the road trip to do scouting reports and watch film and still be part of the game planning," McCann said.
McCann is the seventh player to land on the disabled list for the Tigers, who opened the season without Cameron Maybin, Daniel Norris, Alex Wilson and Blaine Hardy, among others. None of them are long-term injuries, but the accumulation of short-term losses takes its toll.
This one, Ausmus said, has a particularly big impact.
"Everyone likes to talk about players and their bats," Ausmus said, "but the impact a catcher has on the defensive side, in game-calling and preparation, working the pitching staff -- other than the pitcher himself, in a given game, the catcher probably has the most impact, generally speaking. Now, if a guy goes out there and hits three homers, that's a different game. But in a given game, a catcher's going to have the biggest impact, behind the pitcher."
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.