The finale wasn’t supposed to be an off day for Mazara.
But those plans changed.
Hinch wants him to work with hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh and assistant hitting coach Jose Cruz Jr. to prepare for the upcoming three-game series with the New York Yankees, from Friday through Sunday, at Comerica Park.
“He’s trying to get his timing, his rhythm,” Hinch said Thursday. “He’s got a lot of moving parts with his timing mechanisms. He looks a little bit early and a little bit late, and when you get on both sides of that timing, it’s really difficult. … He doesn’t look right.”
Mazara went to the injured list April 15 with a left abdominal strain and did not return to the Tigers until May 8, following a rehabilitation stint in Triple-A Toledo. Since coming back, the 26-year-old is 7-for-41 (.171) with one double, one triple, four RBIs, five walks and 14 strikeouts in 11 games.
Before getting injured, Mazara went 9-for-38 (.237) with two home runs in 12 games. The Tigers aren’t getting the power numbers they expected from Mazara, specifically since his return from the abdominal strain.
That’s why Hinch is giving him a break.
“He’s one click away,” Hinch said. “These hitters, I tell you, they will work and work and work, and then it clicks in the game, and they can take off. Nomar is exactly that.”
From 2016-18, Mazara crushed 20 home runs in each of those three seasons for the Texas Rangers. He smashed 19 more in 2019 before hitting one home run across 42 games for the Chicago White Sox in 2020.
The Tigers signed Mazara to a one-year, $1.75 million contract last offseason.
Baddoo in May
Through 15 games in May, Rule 5 draft pick Akil Baddoo is 10-for-33 (.303) with two doubles, one triple, six RBIs, 10 walks and 11 strikeouts. His results across 20 games in April: 14-for-63 (.222), four doubles, three triples, four home runs, 13 RBIs, two walks and 29 strikeouts.
The biggest difference is seen in the 22-year-old’s strikeout-to-walk ratio.
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Baddoo has made significant improvements controlling the strike zone, despite losing some of the power he displayed during the red-hot start to his MLB career at the beginning of April. Simply, he isn’t trying to do too much anymore.
Focusing on home runs, doubles and triples isn’t worth the unbearable number of strikeouts that follow the all-or-nothing approach, so Baddoo is drawing walks. Then, he is capitalizing on the big hits when the opportunity shows up.
“We needed to ease off the gas pedal with him at a time where it was heading down a path of failure that was frustrating for him,” Hinch said. “He started changing the way he played the game in terms of swinging too much and not having a game plan. We acknowledged that, took him out of the lineup and eased him back into it. I’ll still continue to monitor how he’s doing.”
Between April 23 and May 8, Baddoo went 2-for-33 (.061) with three walks and 17 strikeouts in 12 games.
Since then, he is hitting 9-for-19 (.474) with eight walks and five strikeouts in nine games.
“His comfort in the box has gotten better,” Hinch said. “I think his game plan has tightened up, his confidence grows. As you see with a lot of players, when they are successful at doing something, it starts to become more of a habit. He’s not predetermining swing or take.
“Now that he’s been able to reset, we’re seeing a little bit more of the early season version of him, and he can be really good. Again, it’s a learning lesson for him. … Right now, he’s learning when he’s inside the strike zone, patient and swinging at strikes, he can be a complete player.”
Evan Petzold is a sports reporter at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold. Read more on the Detroit Tigers and sign up for our Tigers newsletter.