Tigers say Tyler Collins' demotion 'not linked' to obscene gesture

(AP Images)
(AP Images)

Detroit Tigers outfielder Tyler Collins received good news on Tuesday when he learned he wouldn't face a suspension for an obscene gesture made toward fans during Monday's game at Comerica Park. He was only fined an undisclosed amount. 

Any relief he may have felt was probably short-lived though, because Wednesday afternoon brought news that he was demoted to Triple-A Toledo, thus concluding a brief and unproductive two-week stint that will only be remembered for said gesture.

[Related: Tyler Collins makes obscene gesture toward fans after misplay]

For those who missed what happened on Monday, Collins and left fielder Justin Upton were met with a chorus of boos after losing a fly ball in the lights. Upton was charged with an error on the play, but Collins was the one who responded with a distasteful gesture that has been blurred out of this photo.

Collins was also seen mouthing a few unpleasant words as the camera focused in on him. He's since apologized, saying he “lashed out completely inappropriately” and was “embarrassed” by his actions. He didn't play in Tuesday's game, so we don't really know if Tigers' fans forgave him. And we may never get that answer following this demotion. 

Considering the timing of Collins' demotion, there were naturally some questions about the circumstances. Perhaps this was Detroit's way of handling the situation was one plausible thought, but Tigers manager Brad Ausmus told the media on Wednesday that Collins' demotion actually had "no link" to Monday's incident. Rather, he's simply the odd man out with Detroit needing spots for returning regulars.

Collins was sent down on Wednesday to make room for closer Francisco Rodriguez, who was activated from the family emergency list. Collins' outfield roster spot will soon be filled by Cameron Maybin, who's coming back from a fractured wrist suffered in March.

Though Ausmus probably would have denied any link to Monday's incident regardless of the actual circumstances, chances are he's being straight forward in this instance. There's likely nothing Collins could have done this week to save his roster spot given the wheels that were already in motion with Detroit's roster. However, he's done himself no favors moving forward. 

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It should go without saying that Detroit fans will not take kindly to Collins' gesture. Sadly, there's a prime example that supports that, as former Tigers' closer Joe Nathan never got back in their good graces completely after making a distasteful gesture during a game in 2014. Bringing Collins back into that environment probably won't be high on Detroit's priorities unless he truly earns the opportunity.

Speaking of which, he surely did nothing to impress the Tigers' brass during this run. Collins went just 2-for-20 at the plate.

Perhaps those numbers only added to his overall frustration, but now he'll have time to figure out how to fix his approach and how to better control his emotions down on the farm.   

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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