Since the beginning of the season, there's been a question as to whether the Detroit Tigers would stick with Phil Coke in the starting rotation or inevitably move him back to the bullpen. For the time being, injury may have answered that question for the team.
Coke left Monday's game against the Tampa Bay Rays in the fourth inning after suffering an injury to his right ankle. The injury occurred as Coke lunged off the mound while trying to field a bunt by the Rays' Ben Zobrist. The ball rolled to third base for an infield hit, and Coke immediately began hobbling. (You can watch the play here.)
On crutches after the game, Coke explained to reporters what happened to his leg:
"It's basically a bone bruise," Coke said. "Basically, two bones, there was a little separation and then they came back together real hard and bruised the space in between them."
Coke went on to say that the infield grass gave way under his feet as he charged off the mound. He also admitted to being caught by surprise by Zobrist's bunt, as he was to refocus after walking the previous batter, B.J. Upton.
The injury was classified as a bone bruise, which is certainly better than any kind of break or tear, as Coke himself pointed out. But it wasn't clear as to whether or not the injury would require Coke to be placed on the disabled list. At the very least, however, missing his next start looks like a real possibility.
The Tigers seem to have eyed Coke as a starter ever since acquiring him from the Yankees in 2009. Yet he was their best reliever last year, and the bullpen has been a frequent trouble spot for Detroit this season. With the recently recalled Charlie Furbush (who picked up the win in relief of Coke on Monday) and Andy Oliver waiting in Toledo, reinforcements for the starting rotation are definitely on hand.