Jackson gets first day off of regular season

Jackson gets first day off of regular season

DETROIT -- After 16 games and 144 1/3 innings, Austin Jackson had a game off. It's not exactly a Prince Fielder-like streak, but it's part of manager Brad Ausmus' plan to rest his center fielder some early so that he can play him every day late.

"He's played every game, every day," Ausmus said. "He'll be back in there tomorrow."

The 16 consecutive starts are a little deceptive, because four scheduled off-days and two postponements created breaks in the schedule. That said, the Tigers are halfway through a stretch of 12 straight games, including a three-game series at Minnesota this weekend.

Last season, Jackson started 33 of the Tigers' first 34 games, playing every inning in 32 of them, before missing a month with a strained right hamstring. Ausmus doesn't have a budget of how often he'd like to rest Jackson, but he'll pick his spots.

"I think you do have to take the long view in the sense that you hope to be in a pennant race in September, where you don't want to give him off-days," Ausmus said. "So if you're taking the long view, you try to mix him in a little bit earlier, in theory to keep him fresher for the last month."

Given Jackson's statistical struggles against left-handed pitchers, such as White Sox starter Charlie Leesman, those would seem to be the games when Jackson is most likely to sit. However, Ausmus cautioned that Jackson has looked like a different hitter this season against lefties.

Jackson is 4-for-10 with four walks off southpaws. He batted just .213 (34-for-160) off lefties last season, and owns a .249 average against them for his career.

"It goes into the thought process," Ausmus said, "though I think Jackson's a little bit different hitter this year. I'm not sure it really matters quite as much."

With Jackson off, Rajai Davis shifted over to center field for the first time as a Tiger, taking on the challenge of the spacious gaps at Comerica Park on a night when a strong, steady wind was blowing out to left-center field. J.D. Martinez, who made his Detroit debut as a pinch-hitter Monday night to the sound of fans chanting his initials, made his first start as a Tiger in left.

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.