Maybin makes long-awaited return to Tigers

Maybin makes long-awaited return to Tigers

DETROIT -- Cameron Maybin made his Major League debut at Comerica Park nine years ago as an August callup. It only feels like he had to wait that long to return.

Friday will mark the six-month mark since the Tigers brought back Maybin, trading Ian Krol to the Braves. Monday marked his first game back in a Tigers uniform after a month and a half on the disabled list with a fractured wrist and a sore shoulder.

Monday was, essentially, his Opening Day, and he made the most of it, going 2-for-2 with a run scored and a stolen base in the Tigers' 10-8 win over the Twins.

Maybin steals second base

"To be honest, I felt excited driving to the park today," Maybin said before the game.

To be equally honest, the Tigers were excited to have him arrive. After Anthony Gose struggled to hold down the center-field job with no challengers, Maybin returned in a stronger position than he projected to have going into the season. Except for a possible start for Justin Upton here and there, center field is Maybin's as long as he's healthy.

Considering the struggles in center and their role in Detroit's slow start, the Tigers' season could hinge in part on Maybin's healthy, effective return. With Gose now at Triple-A Toledo, there's no alternative. Maybin, understandably, doesn't want to think about it that way.

"Getting myself better and getting myself back here has really been my biggest goal. I'm back here now," Maybin said. "Hopefully, I can provide a spark. It's going to take everybody in here, but hopefully, I can bring a little bit of fun in here. No matter what happens, you have to enjoy the game. And when you're away from it, grinding on rehab stints, you remember how much you appreciate it. We just have to get back to having fun, I think [that's] the biggest thing.

"My attention has just been on what I can control, and that's getting healthy, just taking my work serious. The game's tough enough, so I don't really want to add any stress that isn't needed. I'm here now, I'm excited about that, and I can't wait to get out there with my teammates."

That spark was the reason the Tigers called Maybin up for his Major League debut back in 2007, when they were struggling to hold off the surging Indians. He went 0-for-4 in his first game, on Aug. 17 at Yankee Stadium, then homered off Roger Clemens the next afternoon. He had two hits that day, then another two-hit game four days later in a loss to the Indians.

Though Maybin couldn't keep the Tigers' postseason hopes alive, his trade to the Marlins that offseason did, as it brought Miguel Cabrera to Detroit.

"The beauty of this game is, 'What have you done for me lately?'" Maybin said. "We have to make some new memories."

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. 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.