Goodrum (oblique) placed on 10-day IL

Detroit Tigers

Tigers coaches have been touting Willi Castro as Detroit’s shortstop of the future ever since he improved his defense in Spring Training. With Niko Goodrum headed to the injured list with a right oblique strain, the future has arrived.
The Tigers placed Goodrum on the 10-day IL retroactive to Wednesday,

Tigers coaches have been touting Willi Castro as Detroit’s shortstop of the future ever since he improved his defense in Spring Training. With Niko Goodrum headed to the injured list with a right oblique strain, the future has arrived.

The Tigers placed Goodrum on the 10-day IL retroactive to Wednesday, which means he could be eligible to return Sep. 12 against the White Sox. But with the oblique bothering the switch-hitting Goodrum on his left-handed swing, and the unpredictable nature of oblique injuries, Castro could get the bulk of the playing time down the stretch regardless. If Goodrum returns, he might be limited to swinging right-handed.

The Tigers recalled shortstop Sergio Alcántara from the taxi squad after he served as an extra player for Friday’s doubleheader, but manager Ron Gardenhire made it clear Castro is the starting shortstop.

“That’s definitely a tough loss, losing your shortstop, who was playing so good defensively,” Gardenhire said. “But a lot of people, myself included, we all believe Willi’s going to be a big league shortstop. We think he has a lot of tools. He can hit, and he’s really worked hard to make himself better. He’s going to get a little sample size of playing some games here.”

Offensively, the switch-hitting Castro has already given the Tigers a bump, moving into the middle of the lineup on most days. He entered Saturday’s game against the Twins batting .333 (17-for-51) with two homers, eight RBIs, nine runs scored and an .869 OPS. The Tigers liked his hitting enough that they were getting him pregame work in the outfield to give him more options for playing time.

Defensively, the 23-year-old Castro has been a work in progress. He entered Saturday with negative-2 Defensive Runs Saved in a small sample size of 43 innings at short this season, according to Fangraphs. But the Tigers like the progress he has made with his fielding. His two errors so far this season were both on throws.

“When we first got him up here [last year], and I saw him for the first time, he was sliding through a lot of balls. And when he played in the games, he had some of those balls bouncing off and going sideways,” Gardenhire said. “Through a lot of hard work by him and [infield coach Ramon] Santiago and the pancake glove, he has learned to stay through the ball. The only issue I’m seeing right now is he’s a little erratic with his throws at times, and that’s because he drops his elbow.

“He’s really worked his tail off to make himself a good player. We liked our combo with Niko, but this guy can play out there. When you have [Hall of Famer and Tigers special assistant] Alan Trammell having your back, saying this kid’s going to be a good one, I’d say that’s a pretty special player.”

With Castro now playing alongside third baseman Isaac Paredes instead of platooning with him, the Tigers will have an all-rookie left side of the infield.

Tigers visit kids for Childhood Cancer Awareness Day
The Tigers joined all Major League teams on Saturday in wearing gold-ribbon decals and gold wristbands for Childhood Cancer Awareness Day. But they also made a special tribute off the field for children in Kids Kicking Cancer, a non-profit organization that began in Michigan to help young cancer patients heal physically, spiritually and emotionally through the practice of martial arts.

Tigers mascot PAWS joined kids for a virtual workout Saturday morning. Left-hander Daniel Norris, a cancer survivor who has incorporated martial arts into his offseason training, cheered on the kids with a video message. Kids from the program also announced the Tigers’ starting lineup on the FOX Sports Detroit telecast.

For the fifth consecutive year, MLB and its clubs raised awareness for childhood cancer during all games on Saturday for a special league-wide day in home ballparks. MLB’s “Childhood Cancer Awareness Day,” held during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month in collaboration with Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C), combined a visual and ceremonial demonstration of support for the cause with outreach to local hospitals treating young patients in their communities. Childhood cancer is the leading cause of death by disease among children in the United States and Canada.

Childhood cancer awareness efforts in previous seasons have included special pediatric cancer awareness batting-practice T-shirts, online campaigns to empower fans to hold fundraisers for pediatric cancer research and donations to local children’s hospitals. MLB and its clubs have supported the fight against cancer through a variety of initiatives for many years. As Stand Up To Cancer’s founding donor, Major League Baseball has pledged more than $50 million to SU2C’s collaborative cancer research programs, providing invaluable support. Launched in 2013, the work of the Stand Up To Cancer/St. Baldrick’s Foundation Pediatric Cancer Dream Team has helped to develop new immunotherapy approaches and contributed to the development of two new treatments for difficult-to-treat pediatric leukemias that have been approved by the FDA. MLB has recognized SU2C at its jewel events since the ’09 World Series.

Quick hits
• Top pitching prospect Casey Mize, who will face the Twins on Sunday for the second consecutive start, said it’s a challenge he didn’t face in the Minor Leagues or college ball at Auburn. “It’s a balance, a fine line of trying to stick to your stuff and expose what they can’t do,” said Mize, who threw 67 pitches over three innings of two-run, two-hit, two-walk ball Sunday at Comerica Park. “It all comes down to execution.” One difference in the rematch: He could face fellow Auburn product Josh Donaldson.

• Gardenhire exchanged lineup cards on Friday with his son, Toby, who is coaching in the Twins’ organization at their alternate training site but was brought over as an extra coach. “He’s working his tail off,” said the elder Gardenhire. “He loves every minute of it, sitting on that bench over there and listening to guys, and he’s learning.”

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck’s Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason.

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