DETROIT -- The more Avisail Garcia starts in the outfield, the stronger the praise from his manager.
As Garcia readied on Wednesday for his sixth consecutive start, including four in a row in center field, skipper Jim Leyland all but granted that he has earned the uptick in playing time, both offensively and defensively.
"He has accounted for himself well," Leyland said. "He's doing fine."
And he's doing most of it in a position he wasn't expected to play in the big leagues. Though Garcia played center field for much of last summer at Double-A Erie, between Nick Castellanos and Daniel Fields on the corners, he was primarily seen as a corner outfielder in the Majors. Besides, Austin Jackson's presence in center pretty much made having Garcia there a luxury rather than a necessity.
But once Jackson went on the disabled list with a hamstring pull, the Tigers needed a center fielder. With no other clear options, Garcia became the fill-in. He's playing better than stopgap.
Garcia's frame fits the mold of a corner outfielder. At 6-foot-4 and 240 pounds, he almost dwarfs platoon left fielder Matt Tuiasosopo.
When Garcia runs down a fly ball, however, that's when the his speed begins to show.
"He's a freak, man," Tuiasosopo said. "He's big, strong, fast. I was impressed in Spring Training when I saw him in the outfield."
Garcia, for his part, is happy playing any outfield spot if it's in Detroit. Still, he admits he's having fun in center.
"I have more room to run to the ball," he said. "Playing center field with [Torii] Hunter [in right], we have fun a lot. I like to play center. I like to play right. I like to play left. Wherever they play me, I'm going to play hard. But yeah, I have fun."
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. Bobby Nightengale is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.