Austin Jackson has been solid as the Tigers' everyday center fielder for three years now, and that…
Before his mishap, Austin Jackson was leading the Tigers offensively and defensively dominated the outfield.
His .331 batting average was by far the best on the team and the leadoff hitter's on-base percentage was nothing different with a .414 average.
Bottom line — if Jackson can't swing the bat, this all means nothing.
Luckily he began his rehab assignment in Toledo on Thursday.
While fans might not have thought going 0-for-4 was impressive in the least, Mud Hens manager Phil Nevin said he liked the fact that he could swing and miss.
"The first at bat was probably the most telling one for us … with those obliques," Nevin said. "Those are the ones that are going to get you and grab you sometimes and to see him swing and miss and feel fine and able to let it go his next three at bats, he looked good to me."
Jackson said it felt pretty good to get back out there and get the blood flowing again.
"It was tough, just trying to get the timing back definitely wanted to see some pitches and definitely wanted to swing a little bit too just to see if I felt anything," Jackson said. "I didn't have any pain so that is a good sign."
Jackson struck out his first at bat, but put up a good fight against the nearly no-hit Terry Doyle, working the count to 3-2 before waving and missing.
"When I hurt it swinging out front like that, I definitely felt some pain," Jackson said. "I did that tonight … I was able to do it and not have any pain so that's definitely a good sign in moving forward."
Jackson was scheduled to only have three at bats, but he said once he realized he wasn't feeling any pain, he wanted to try his timing and take a couple of swings on the fourth, this one coming in the ninth on a sixth pitch at bat that advanced a runner.
"Obviously there is a little bit of timing that he'll pick up real quick probably," Nevin said. "I'm sure he will be fine [Friday], he hit the ball hard there in the ninth inning.
While offensively people would be quick to question whether or not Jackson was ready to rejoin the Tigers, his performance in the outfield eliminated any doubt."
The way he moved and reached, snagging balls out of the sky, eased everyone's mind and he said he was glad he had balls hit his way and he was put to the test.
Jackson was in the leadoff spot in Friday's game against Charlotte and it might be his last with the Mud Hens.
He said he knows he has to play and get his body in game shape, but most importantly he doesn't want to feel any pain.
"I'm not too worried about results, but just getting back out there," Jackson said.