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Carrera, Davis to share center field for Tigers

Jackson's departure in Price trade opens opportunity to roam outfield

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Carrera, Davis to share center field for Tigers play video for Carrera, Davis to share center field for Tigers

DETROIT -- In the immediate aftermath of the Tigers' blockbuster deal that sent Austin Jackson and Drew Smyly out and brought David Price into Detroit, the most obvious question wasn't about whether the team had the bullpen arms to reach the World Series or how the playoff rotation might shape up.

It was this: Who was going to play center field?

Jackson's departure left a glaring void in the middle of the Comerica Park outfield. He'd played an important role in the organization's three consecutive American League Central titles since joining the club after the 2009 season in another massive, three-team deal.

The answer to that burning question revealed itself shortly thereafter, when the Tigers announced that Ezequiel Carrera's contract would be purchased from Triple-A Toledo. However, the adequacy of that solution might not be known for weeks or even months.

Carrera, who will join the club Friday, is a 27-year-old Venezuelan product known for his defense. He'll be playing in an outfield not particularly known for its defense.

Carrera has 177 career Major League at-bats, spread over parts of three seasons spent with Cleveland and Philadelphia. His batting average is hovering just above .300 for Toledo this season.

He's never been a regular big league player, and it remains to be seen whether he will be in Detroit for the remainder of the season. He'll certainly be splitting center-field duties with Rajai Davis, who has been the club's fourth outfielder since the emergence of J.D. Martinez as an offensive threat.

"I haven't decided that yet," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said when asked how the playing time will be divided between Davis and Carrera. "It'll be decided on a game-by-game basis, generally."

Ausmus also emphasized the versatility of Davis and Carrera and how that will be useful when trying to get a day off for either Martinez or right fielder Torii Hunter.

While Jackson's offensive production is down from the previous two seasons, his postseason experience and prior success are attributes that Detroit might find itself missing in October.

The Tigers and A's are seemingly on a collision course for the AL Championship Series, especially after earth-shattering Trade Deadline acquisitions. In the last two ALCS combined, Jackson hit .333.

And Jackson seemed to be returning to form in the past month, which, likely by no coincidence, corresponds to when he was moved back to the leadoff position he was in for much of his career as a Tiger. In July, he hit .343, up from .200 and .235 in May and June, respectively.

Club president and general manager Dave Dombrowski said he anticipates there will be "some fall off" from the Tigers at the plate with Jackson's departure. But, he said, "I don't consider it a big risk."

According to Dombrowski, there was no deal without Jackson, who's headed to Seattle. That fact gave him an opportunity to promote Carrera, which Dombrowski said the organization has been grappling with how to do all season.

"I think we'll score enough runs," Dombrowski added. "We think Carrera and Davis can do a good job out there."

Matt Slovin is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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