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Slumping Monroe designated for assignment

8/18/2007 - MLB Craig Monroe Detroit Tigers + more


NEW YORK -- In a bold move during a tense pennant race, the
Detroit Tigers called up touted prospect Cameron Maybin on Friday
and cut slumping outfielder Craig Monroe, a key member of their
World Series team last season.

The 20-year-old Maybin, with only six games of experience in
Double-A, had a difficult major league debut at Yankee Stadium. He
went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts while batting second and playing a
shaky, though errorless, left field in a 6-1 loss to New York.

"I didn't do anything well tonight. I never let the game come
to me," Maybin said. "I'm happy to have the first one out of the
way, absolutely. I was jacked up tonight. Now I can go out and
relax. With repetition, everything will come along."

Drafted 10th overall in 2005 out of high school in North
Carolina, the multiskilled Maybin is considered one of the top
prospects in baseball. In fact, Tigers general manager Dave
Dombrowski, who also built winning teams in Montreal and Florida,
called him the best position-player prospect he's had in any
organization.

"I don't know if he's ready. We'll see. This is a big jump, but
he can make a lot of things happen because he can run," Dombrowski
said before the game. "It changes the look of our ballclub. We've
become a little more athletic."

Maybin was on a bus to Altoona, Pa., when he got the news
Thursday night from Matt Walbeck, his manager at Double-A Erie.

Now, the 6-foot-4, 205-pound outfielder has been thrust into an
important role for the defending AL champions -- in the middle of a
tight playoff chase.

"I'm totally excited. That lets me know they have confidence in
me," Maybin said.

The Tigers fell out of first place in the AL Central, a
half-game behind Cleveland.

"We brought him up to play. It's not like we've got to keep
playing him if he scuffles," Dombrowski said. "We'll see what
happens. It's up to him to perform. We think he has those
capabilities. If not, it's a situation where his makeup and his
ability, I don't think that it will harm him with any long-term
effects by any means. We think it has a chance to work. If it
doesn't, then we'll play some of the other guys at that time."

Maybin, normally a center fielder, said shifting to left was
difficult.

"Oh man, it's different. The ball goes all different ways. It's
an adjustment I have to make," he said.

Maybin took an awkward angle on Andy Phillips' two-run double to
left-center in the sixth.

"I had a good bead on it. I had a great jump. I just lost it in
the lights," he said.

Detroit also recalled infielder Ramon Santiago from Triple-A
Toledo and optioned infielder Omar Infante to its top minor league
team.

The 30-year-old Monroe, who had lost his starting job in left
field to Marcus Thames, was hitting only .222 with 11 home runs and
55 RBIs in 99 games.

Like several teammates, Monroe had recently been sidelined
because of the flu. The Tigers have 10 days to trade, release or
send him outright to the minors.

"He had a lot of big moments for us," Dombrowski said. "Craig
has scuffled a little bit over the last couple of months. I think
probably for him a change of scenery will be beneficial at this
time. That's why it's with mixed emotions, because we like Craig
and what he did for us."

Monroe batted .255 with 28 homers and 92 RBIs last year, then
tied a franchise record by hitting five home runs in the
postseason. He also tied for second among AL outfielders with 12
assists.

Monroe signed a one-year contract for $4,775,000 in the
offseason, getting a raise from $2.8 million.

Maybin started the season at Class-A Lakeland, hitting .304 with
10 homers, 44 RBIs and 25 stolen bases before being promoted to
Erie. The Tigers purchased his contract after he hit .400 with four
home runs and eight RBIs in 20 at-bats at Double-A.

"Obviously, he had a tough debut," Detroit manager Jim Leyland
said. "He's very talented. The tiers on the stadium, it's tougher
to pick up the ball. He's going to be fine. He'll play tomorrow. I
think he was probably a little anxious."

Before the game, Leyland wouldn't commit to a plan for Maybin,
but it's clear the kid was called up to show what he can do.

"When you say every day -- I don't know how it's going to play
out," Leyland said. "We would have never brought him up to sit."

Maybin expected his parents to be in attendance Friday night.
His cousin is Rashad McCants of the NBA's Minnesota Timberwolves, a
former star at North Carolina.

"What better place to have your debut than Yankee Stadium?"
Maybin said before the game. "I'm excited, but I'm pretty relaxed
and calm. This is what I've been looking forward to. I'm just going
to go out and have fun, man, enjoy it."