DETROIT (AP) -- 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 at Double-A, was set to make his major league debut Friday night against the New York Yankees -- weather permitting. He was in the starting lineup, playing left field and batting second.
"What better place to have your debut than Yankee Stadium?" Maybin said. "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."
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. "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 began the day with a half-game lead over Cleveland in the AL Central.
"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."
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.
Detroit manager Jim 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 at Yankee Stadium on Friday night. His cousin is Rashad McCants of the NBA's Minnesota Timberwolves, a former star at North Carolina.
Santiago batted .263 with three homers and 30 RBIs at Toledo.