Collins' lat injury puts minor wrench in plans

Tigers' center-field candidate unable to throw for 10-14 days

Collins' lat injury puts minor wrench in plans

LAKELAND, Fla. -- The Tigers' first injury in camp has taken Tyler Collins out of the center-field race for the early part of the Spring Training schedule. But neither Collins nor manager Brad Ausmus expects a lengthy absence.

Collins suffered a strained lat while throwing during outfield drills earlier this week. He can still hit, run and field, but he won't be able to throw for 10-14 days.

"Honestly, it just felt like getting back used to long tossing, just growing pains. And then an hour later, it locked up," Collins said Friday morning. "It never really hurt until after I had thrown a whole bunch."

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The injury is high enough that it's almost at Collins' armpit, so the muscles he uses to swing the bat and run aren't affected. He could see action in Grapefruit League games as designated hitter, pinch-hitter or pinch-runner. Ausmus said they could set up some Minor League camp games and let Collins play center field while not allowing him to throw the ball.

Still, as the Tigers try to sort out their center-field mix, the missed time leaves Collins with catching up to do defensively. Mikie Mahtook started Thursday against Florida Southern. Anthony Gose will get the start in Friday's Grapefruit League opener against the Orioles. Prospect JaCoby Jones is vying to prove he's ready to stick in the Majors.

The roster going into camp seemed to lean toward a lefty-righty platoon of Collins and Mahtook. If Collins can return in a couple weeks, that might still hold.

"It's plenty of time," Ausmus said, "but it doesn't help him, for sure, when you have the one spot we have a competition. To be injured doesn't help him, but it's early enough in camp and it doesn't seem to be a long-term injury."

Collins looked on the bright side.

"Spring Training is way too long anyway," he said half-jokingly. "Nobody's sweating anything."

• Third baseman Nick Castellanos also was a no-go for Friday's 2-0 loss, though he shouldn't be a long-term issue. He was scratched from Friday's original lineup with an illness. Castellanos, who played in Thursday's exhibition game against Florida Southern, was in the clubhouse early in the morning before being sent home.

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.