Gardy dealing with gastrointestinal issues

Detroit Tigers

Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire missed his second consecutive game Monday as he deals with continued symptoms related to gastrointestinal issues.
Bench coach Lloyd McClendon stepped in again, and he sounded optimistic about Gardenhire’s health after they talked earlier Monday.
“Gardy’s feeling a lot better,” McClendon said Monday morning. “We spoke

Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire missed his second consecutive game Monday as he deals with continued symptoms related to gastrointestinal issues.

Bench coach Lloyd McClendon stepped in again, and he sounded optimistic about Gardenhire’s health after they talked earlier Monday.

“Gardy’s feeling a lot better,” McClendon said Monday morning. “We spoke this morning and his voice sounded a lot better. I think there’s some follow-up things they want to do to make sure he’s OK, but he’s fine.”

Gardenhire left Saturday’s game during the middle innings and watched the late innings from the clubhouse while he received attention from the team’s medical staff. McClendon took over managerial duties for the rest of that game and has been in charge ever since.

The move Saturday caught several players off-guard, many of whom weren’t aware Gardenhire was dealing with issues.

“The last three or four innings, I was wondering,” shortstop Willi Castro said Sunday. “I asked Niko [Goodrum], [because] he was in the clubhouse and then in the dugout, and he told me [Gardenhire] was feeling a little sick. Hopefully he feels better.”

Tigers head athletic trainer Doug Teter said Monday that Gardenhire is following up with local physicians.

Gardenhire isn’t the only Major League manager dealing with gastrointestinal issues. Cleveland manager Terry Francona, a good friend of Gardenhire, has missed more than two dozen games this season while dealing with an issue that had been bothering him for months. While receiving treatment last month, Francona was diagnosed with blood clots that required the insertion of a stent to help his blood flow. He continues to recover.

Garcia assuming bigger role
The words from Gardenhire after using rookie Bryan Garcia to escape a bases-loaded one-out jam and protect a lead last Tuesday in Milwaukee spoke volumes.

“We trust a certain amount of guys out there with the bases loaded,” Gardenhire said.

The next day, Gardenhire called on Garcia again with the bases loaded, this time with two outs and the Tigers trailing by one. Again, Garcia escaped.

After retiring the middle of the Twins’ lineup with a one-run lead in the fifth inning during Game 2 of a seven-inning doubleheader Friday, Garcia finally got the call in the ninth inning Sunday with a 10-8 lead. He was a closer by necessity — Gregory Soto, Jose Cisnero, Buck Farmer and Joe Jimenez were all out after pitching the previous two days — but it was a big step for Garcia in his 26th Major League appearance to earn his first big-league save.

Garcia has been groomed for the ninth inning since he was in college. He was the closer for all three of his seasons at the University of Miami, winning the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association’s Stopper of the Award in 2016. His 43 saves at Miami are a school record and ranked ninth in Division I history when he left. He was on a fast track to Detroit’s bullpen in his first full pro season in 2017 before Tommy John surgery sidelined him until last summer.

Sunday’s save doesn’t make Garcia the closer going forward. But as the Tigers head down a busy stretch run of games using their bullpen by matchups, simply getting that trust is a huge step.

“That’s awesome. You want to be one of those guys that they can call on to get out of a situation like that,” Garcia said after the bases-loaded jams last week. “That’s what I work to become and to get back to after the surgery. I’m just happy I can provide that and be a key component of the bullpen.”

No war on words
The Tigers are not concerned about the words traded between Jimenez and Miguel Sanó after Sanó celebrated a home run Saturday night and accused Jimenez of choice words to him and Nelson Cruz after big outs.

“On a scale of 1 to 10, that situation’s a 0 for me,” McClendon said. “Players take care of things themselves, and I think Gardy would probably feel the same way. We don’t have time to deal with things like that. For me to try to tell a player how to act, I can’t do that. That’s their emotions, and they’re the ones out there playing.”

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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