Detroit Tigers: Breaking down the most recent news

DETROIT, MI - APRIL 01: A wide-angle general view of Comerica Park during the Opening Day game between the Detroit Tigers and the Cleveland Indians at Comerica Park on April 1, 2021 in Detroit, Michigan. The Tigers defeated the Indians 3-2. (Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI - APRIL 01: A wide-angle general view of Comerica Park during the Opening Day game between the Detroit Tigers and the Cleveland Indians at Comerica Park on April 1, 2021 in Detroit, Michigan. The Tigers defeated the Indians 3-2. (Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images) /

The Detroit Tigers have made major upgrades to their lineups during the offseason. From adding big-named players such as Javier Baez, Austin Meadows, and Eduardo Rodriguez to having highly-ranked prospects such as Spencer Torkleson joining the majors, the Tigers looked like they were in good shape heading into the season. However, many of those names are disintegrating out of the lineup which has fans wondering: “What is happening?”

In Saturday’s lineup, the Tigers were missing Javier Báez, Austin Meadows, Tucker Barnhart, and Akil Baddoo, who were all in the Tigers’ Opening Day lineup. Instead, they were replaced with names such as Daz Cameron, Dustin Garneau, and Harold Castro, players who have yet to prove themselves as everyday MLB starters.

Some of the reasons as to why the Tigers’ lineup have changed drastically are long-term and others are just simple breaks (such as Robbie Grossman, who took a three-day absence for a groin injury but is now back). Some newbies are struggling to adjust to their new home, while others are injured.

Here is a breakdown of the latest Detroit Tigers news

Javier Báez hits 10-day injured list

On Saturday, Tigers’ infielder Javier Báez officially hit the 10-day injured list after missing three games previously for a thumb injury. However, this injury happened prior to his absence.

On Opening Day, Báez had an unusual walk-off (pop-out which was then overturned as a hit) which called for a fun celebration.

Somewhere in that electric celebration, Báez hurt his thumb, but it wasn’t anything serious. Báez still continued to play, but then he jammed that same thumb in Tuesday’s game against the Red Sox. 

Although there is quite a bit of swelling, all of his X-rays came back clean. With that being said, he is not expected to miss longer than the 10-day minimum, so his return could be as soon as April 23.

Meanwhile, the Tigers are excepted to call up Willi Castro from Triple-A Toledo. After Castro was removed from Saturday’s lineup expectedly, it is safe to say that the infielder will have another shot at the Majors. Currently, it looks like shortstop will be shared by Harold Castro (who has been starting at shortstop) and Willi Castro.

Tucker Barnhart struggling to adjust

Tucker Barnhart played for the Cincinnati Reds for eight seasons before being traded to the Detroit Tigers. Barnhart was the primary catcher for the Reds for most of his career, but this isn’t exactly the same situation for the Tigers.

Barnhart was in the Opening Day lineup, but was then taken out later in the game. He was replaced by Eric Haase, who then hit a dinger in the ninth to help the Tigers comeback to win.

Since Opening Day, Barnhart hasn’t done much, hitting .133 with two hits and eight strikeouts in 17 plate appearances. Although Haase isn’t doing much better (hitting a whopping .193), you’d expect a little more out of a veteran like Barnhart.

Casey Mize, Matt Manning injured

The Tigers’ pitching rotation was full of youngsters. But things have quickly taken a turn, after two young starters went down within two days.

On Thursday. Casey Mize exited the game after five innings (88 pitches), but there wasn’t an issue that was seen that day. However, the Tigers announced the next day that Mize had a right elbow sprain, which means that he will spend time on the 10-day IL. It looks like he will forgo more testing, so it’s hard to tell exactly when he will come back.

Then, when Tigers fans thought it couldn’t get any worse, Saturday’s starter Matt Manning was pulled after two innings of work after experiencing shoulder discomfort. As of press time, no further news has been revealed, so his situation is unknown.

Right now, the next options would be veterans Willy Peralta and Michael Pineta. Peralta, who pitched with Detroit last season, just had his contract picked up by the Tigers so he will be looking to spend some time on the mound soon. Meanwhile, Pineta will not make his start in Triple-A on Sunday, which probably means that he will be heading to the Majors soon.

Austin Meadows not starting against lefties

Austin Meadows has already made himself a prime player for the Tigers, hitting in the number-two hole in the lineup. However, he hasn’t been playing everyday like what Tigers’ fans were expecting to see.

This is because Meadows struggles tremulously against lefties. He saw his first day-off on Tuesday (after manager A.J. Hinch said that it was due to the early game time and because lefty Rich Hill was on-the-mound), but then he was absent again on Saturday because, you guessed it, another lefty was pitching.

Meadows has historically struggled against lefties. In 2021, Meadows slashed .198/.270/.293 (in 189 plate appearances) against left-handed pitches as opposed to .251/.336/.536 (in 402 plate appearances) against righties, so it makes sense as to why Hinch wouldn’t start him against lefties. However, Meadows said that he wants to change that and prove himself against lefties this season. With that being said, Meadows might receive more playing time against lefties, but he will have to improve quite a bit if he wants to consistently hit against southpaws.

Akil Baddoo not like last year’s start

Remember when Akil Baddoo proved everyone wrong in the beginning of the season last year, absolutely raking and quickly adjusting to the Majors? Well, that’s not the case this season.

Baddoo is off to a much slower start, hitting .091 with two hits through Saturday’s games. At this point last year, Baddoo already had six-plus dingers and was the exciting rookie that everyone could not stop talking about.

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However, although Baddoo is off to a much slower start, he still has plenty of time to redeem himself before it becomes worrisome. Baddoo has already proved that he has the talent to play in the Majors, but now it’s just a matter of readjusting to his rookie year.