It’s something for manager A.J. Hinch and the Tigers’ front office to consider as they make decisions for the Opening Day roster, though Hinch seemed cautious not to make too much of it.
“He looks a little bit in-between to me, as the at-bats have piled up on him and he’s been making outs,” Hinch said Tuesday morning. “He’s gone patient and gotten 0-2 [counts] very quickly. He’s gone aggressive and not hit the ball early in counts. He’s kind of found himself in a rut that he will get out of eventually, but right now, they’re just kind of beating him in a couple different ways.
“The good news is he hasn’t taken that out to the field. He’s played tremendous defense, specifically at second. He’s been very, very impressive on that side of the ball. And we all know he can hit, so it’s not that alarming. It’s probably disappointing for him that he hasn’t found success and he’s in the middle of a competition, but that’s the nature of competing for a job and the difficulty of the game.”
That defense has turned what initially looked like an experiment with him at second base into a more realistic option, possibly even with Jonathan Schoop moving to Paredes’ usual spot at third on some days depending on the Tigers’ starting pitcher and the opposing lineup. That, of course, depends on what Detroit does at first base, where Renato Núñez finds himself in a roster battle.
The Tigers signed Núñez to add a power threat to the lineup and stabilize first. The power is clearly there, but he has to convince the team that he can handle the spot defensively, specifically handling sometimes less-than-perfect throws from young infielders Paredes and Willi Castro.
General manager Al Avila might have provided a telling comment Tuesday morning when he told MLB Network Radio’s Steve Phillips and former Tigers pitcher C.J. Nitkowski that Hinch prefers to view first base as an open position where he can shuffle players in and out of the lineup.
Though Miguel Cabrera is expected to get occasional starts at first regardless, a true rotation with Jeimer Candelario and Niko Goodrum starting there as well would be more realistic, rather than Núñez as the primary first baseman. That would favor Paredes making the roster and getting starts at second and third.
“If that ball got me two inches lower and I broke my jaw and had to get my jaw wired shut, that would’ve been a whole different scenario,” said Greiner, who homered Monday against the Blue Jays. “If it was two inches higher and it shattered my orbital bone, we probably wouldn’t be sitting here having this conversation. I’m just glad to be out playing again.”
• Julio Teheran, who left his start Monday as a precaution with back tightness, felt fine Tuesday morning and was scheduled to go through a normal day-after-start workout before throwing a side session Wednesday, Hinch said. Meanwhile, Avila told MLB Network Radio that the Tigers face a decision in the next 24 hours on whether to add Teheran to the 40-man roster or let him opt-out for free agency.
• Riley Greene’s ninth-inning double Monday night registered a 115.8 mph exit velocity, according to Statcast. It’s the hardest-hit ball registered by a Tiger since Statcast began tracking in 2015, topping a 115.6 mph single by Cabrera on May 30, 2015. It’s also the fourth-hardest-hit ball by any player this Spring Training.