Detroit — Tigers manager AJ Hinch rarely, if ever, has to coax or cajole his players to play. He does occasionally, however, have to fight with them to take a game off.
He had two such conversations before the game Friday — one with outfielder Victor Reyes and the other with starting pitcher Jose Urena.
Reyes was supposed to start in center field against the Yankees, but Hinch scratched him about three and half hours before the game. Niko Goodrum replaced him in center, with Harold Castro moving to shortstop. Eric Haase was inserted as the designated hitter.
“Victor reported just a little bit of stiffness,” Hinch said. “Remember yesterday (during his at-bat in the fourth inning against the Indians) he grabbed at his pectoral area. He lobbied to play but I’m not going to take any chances, specifically on a cold night where the other guy is throwing 100 mph. Probably a bad combination.”
The Tigers were facing Yankees ace Gerrit Cole Friday on a wet night with temperatures falling into the low 40s.
“He was trying to play,” Hinch said. “He went down to hit in the cage. He has full activity. The concern level is super low. It’s just not an optimal night to test any sort of injury.”
Urena came out of his start Wednesday when his lower right forearm, down near his wrist, started to cramp. Hinch is leaning toward having him skip his scheduled start in Milwaukee, just for precautionary reasons.
“He’s feeling better and right now he’s trying to convince us he feels good enough to start,” Hinch said. “I’m trying to convince him maybe the smart, diligent thing to do is to miss the start in Milwaukee where he’d have to swing the bat.
“I want to be very conservative with him.”
That particular debate is still going. Hinch said they will come to a decision Saturday or Sunday.
“My initial reaction is to be very conservative and make sure we nip any soreness in the bud and be done with it,” Hinch said. “He wanted to fight through it and see how he feels. We will come to a collective agreement within the next 24 hours or so.”
The Tigers play two games against the Brewers, Monday and Tuesday, then have a day off before opening a four-game set in Chicago against the White Sox.
Steady as she goes
Jeimer Candelario took a 23-game on-base streak into the game Friday, the longest active streak in the big leagues.
“There will be at-bats where he is super disciplined and there are other at-bats where he’s fairly aggressive,” Hinch said. “That well-rounded approach allows him to dictate what he’s trying to do on any given at-bat. And he does hit the ball hard. He’s kind of a sneaky exit velocity guy.”
Of the balls Candelario has put in play, 10% have had an exit velocity of 95 mph or better. His maximum exit velocity of 110 mph is in the upper 25% of the league.
“He can impact a ball and he can spray it around,” Hinch said. “I see teams that shift him and I’ve seen other teams unshift him. That tells me he’s a confusing hitter to the other side and they are not quite sure what his tendencies are going to be.
“And that leads to more holes opening up for him.”
Candelario is slashing .299/.378/.460 with five doubles, three home runs and nine RBIs in the 23-game stretch.
Around the horn
Right-hander Rony Garcia, who missed all of spring training recovering from an appendectomy, is quietly putting himself in position to be called up if the Tigers need reinforcements in the starting rotation.
The Rule 5 pick in 2020, Garcia started and pitched five shutout innings for Triple-A Toledo last night. He struck out six, gave up two hits and walked two.
Yankees at Tigers
► First pitch: 4:10 p.m. Saturday, Comerica Park, Detroit
► TV/radio: BSD, MLBN/97.1
► RHP Deivi Garcia (0-1, 4.50), Yankees: This will be his first start in the big leagues since April 26. After striking out 33 and walking six in six starts last year, he’s fighting his command so far this season. He walked 12 in 15⅔ innings in Triple-A before being called back up.
► RHP Spencer Turnbull (3-2, 3.12), Tigers: If it seems like Turnbull has been more stable on the mound this year, it’s because he has been. He’s throwing strikes 63.3% of the time and his walk rate is a career low 5.5%. Opponents are hitting .215 against him with almost no power (.295 slugging against and a career-low 88 mph exit velocity on balls put in play).