Allen Craig aiming to get out of leg brace in three weeks

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Cardinals outfielder Allen Craig underwent surgery on his right knee around Thanksgiving and is doubtful to be ready for the start of the 2012 regular season. But his recovery, to this point, has gone smoothly.

According to Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Craig is expected to have his protective leg brace removed three weeks from now. After that he’ll go through a couple months of rehab, then it’ll be on to light baseball-related workouts.

Craig, 27, batted .315 with a .917 OPS in 219 plate appearances this past year for the World Series champion Cardinals before slugging four home runs and collecting eight RBI in 37 postseason at-bats. Unless St. Louis makes a big move this winter, like signing free agent Carlos Beltran, Craig will serve as the club’s primary right fielder in 2012.

Ron Gardenhire officially named the Tigers new manager

Associated Press
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The Tigers have officially named Ron Gardenhire as their next manager. Gardenhire has agreed to a three-year contract.

Gardenhire takes over for Brad Ausmus, who was let go after four seasons as Detroit’s manager. The Tigers went 64-98 this season, finishing tied for the worst record in the majors. Having traded away Justin Verlander and J.D. Martinez, they’re poised for a major rebuild, so it’s best to look at Gardenhire as something of a caretaker manager.

As far as caretaker managers go, Gardenhire is not a terrible choice. He was the bench coach for the Arizona Diamondbacks this season. He managed the Twins from 2002-14, going 1,068-1,039, winning the AL Central six times. He was AL Manager of the Year in 2010. He’ll do a fine job keeping the clubhouse drama free, dealing with the press and making sure the young players know the way to the team bus during road trips. There’s value in having an old hand doing those things with a team in as uncertain a position as the Tigers are these days.

Still, it’s a less-than-imaginative choice. If you have nothing to lose, and the Tigers really don’t, you’d think being somewhat more adventurous with your manager choice might be a way to try something new. As it is, the Tigers took a veteran-laden team in a win-now position and gave it to an unproven Brad Ausmus back in 2014. Now they’re playing it safe with a known quantity when the stakes are low.