Detroit Tigers catcher Eric Haase has been on the traveling taxi squad for road trips all season. He caught warmups, took batting practice and followed the patterns of his fellow catchers, but unless there were two injuries, he wasn’t ever going to play.
That changed Tuesday.
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The Tigers demoted catcher Grayson Greiner to the alternate training site, and Haase — a Dearborn Divine Child graduate — was named his replacement.
“I get chills just thinking about it,” Haase said Tuesday. “From the minute they said I was traded over here, it’s been something that’s been in the back of my mind. To be able to (put on the jersey) tonight, it’s pretty awesome.”
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Haase, 27, has three hits and one homer in 19 career games across two seasons for the Cleveland Indians. He was drafted by the Indians in the seventh round (No. 218 overall) in the 2011 draft from Divine Child.
In January, the Tigers acquired him for cash considerations.
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Since summer camp broke at the end of July, Haase began splitting time between the alternate training site and road trips with the Tigers. He thinks doing both for the last two months will pay dividends because of the relationships he has with his teammates on the active roster.
Haase played 102 games for Triple-A Columbus last season, hitting .226 with 28 homers, 60 RBIs, 142 strikeouts and 42 walks. He made the Triple-A All-Star Game and was named the International League team’s MVP.
“My career has been a pretty big roller coaster throughout the minor leagues, and even in the major leagues,” Haase said. “I’ve had a lot of experiencing coming off the bench late in games. Whatever I feel like I can to do help the team, I’m lucky to have a lot of experience doing all that.”
If Greiner remains in Toledo for the rest of the season, he will finish with a .118 batting average, three home runs and eight RBIs in 18 games.
“He wasn’t swinging good,” manager Ron Gardenhire said Tuesday. “He put a couple of good swings on some balls, but Haase has been working really, really hard. Give him an opportunity here. … See what he can do, try to find a pick-me-up on offense. He’ll get his action.”
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Jonathan Schoop injured
Shortly after bringing up Haase, the Tigers announced second baseman Jonathan Schoop was placed on the 10-day injured list, retroactive to Sunday, with a right wrist sprain.
Gardenhire isn’t sure if Schoop’s injury dates back to when he left the Sept. 8 game against the Milwaukee Brewers with a contusion on that same wrist. He played five games since then but sat out Sunday’s three-game series finale with the Chicago White Sox.
“I think it was part of where he got hit, but I think he sprained it swinging, or something,” Gardenhire said. “It’s been bothering him. Tough to put him in the IL, but I’m activating one and sending another down. If he can’t play, that’s really hard right now. He was going to miss three or four days no matter what. Now he’s going to miss seven. But we have to let him get well.”
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With Schoop’s injury, shortstop Niko Goodrum has been reinstated from the 10-day injured list.
Goodrum has been out since Sept. 2, when he slowly walked back into the dugout while clutching his abdomen area after flying out. Three days later, the team placed him on the injured list with a right oblique strain.
In 31 games, Goodrum is hitting .186 with five homers and 17 RBIs. Since his 4-for-4 performance in a 5-1 win over the White Sox on Aug. 10, Goodrum is 8-for-62 (.129) with nine walks and 28 strikeouts.
He was replaced in the lineup by Willi Castro, who leads the Tigers with a .337 batting average in 25 games. The 23-year-old has added three homers and 13 RBIs. Despite his offensive success, Castro’s second year in the majors has come with defensive lapses. He has four errors in 55 chances; Goodrum has one error in 110 chances this year at shortstop.
But the Tigers decided to put Goodrum at second base in Tuesday’s lineup and keep Castro at shortstop.
“They want to take a good look at (Castro),” Gardenhire said. “He’s swinging good, and we know Niko can play multiple positions. Willi has done it, too, but I told Niko, ‘You’ll go to second.’ He said he just wants to play.”
In a video released by the Tigers on YouTube, designated hitter Miguel Cabrera discussed reaching 2,000 hits with the organization. He achieved the historic mark Aug. 30 at Comerica Park with an RBI single to left field in the first inning against the Minnesota Twins.
“I didn’t even know that hit was going to be 2,000 with the Tigers,” Cabrera said in an interview with the organization. “I don’t follow numbers. I don’t follow, like, personal numbers. To be honest, it was very exciting for me, my family and my friends.”
With nobody other than his teammates and coaches to watch him, Cabrera stepped out of the dugout for a curtain call. He is the eighth Tiger to reach 2,000 hits with the franchise, including Lou Whitaker, Ty Cobb, Al Kaline, Charlie Gehringer, Harry Heilmann, Sam Crawford and Alan Trammell.
“It was sad because there were no fans,” Cabrera said. “There were no people in the stands to see it. It was something I decided to do because I always want to do that.”
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Also, Cabrera is the Tigers’ nomination for the Roberto Clemente Award, which is given to the player in baseball who displays “extraordinary character, community involvement, philanthropy and positive contributions” on and off the field. He donated $250,000 to Detroit-based organizations for children in May.
Despite joining the history books numerous times this season, Cabrera has not spoken with reporters since spring training. In the age of Zoom conferences amid the COVID-19 pandemic, he has declined all requests.
Evan Petzold is a sports reporting intern at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold.