Detroit Tigers explain sending down Nomar Mazara and Willi Castro, calling up Derek Hill

Detroit Free Press
Dana Gauruder |  Special to Detroit Free Press

The Detroit Tigers made a few roster moves Friday morning, ahead of the start to the season’s second half.

Going: Outfielder Nomar Mazara has been designated for assignment, with infielder Willi Castro optioned to Triple-A Toledo.

Coming: Outfielder Derek Hill and infielder Isaac Paredes are up from Toledo.

Mazara, 26, was signed as a free agent by the Tigers over the offseason to add some offensive punch, but his time in the organization is essentially over. The left-handed hitter batted .212 with three homers and 19 RBIs in 165 at-bats over 50 games prior to the All-Star break.

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“The conversation with Nomar was tough because he’s a real pro and we like Nomar,” Tigers manager AJ Hinch said Friday morning. “We wanted to give him an opportunity. For me personally as the manager, I wanted to make sure he got a fair shake.”

Mazara, signed to a one-year, $1.75 million contract in the offseason, had one homer in 42 games with the Chicago White Sox last season, but homered at least 19 times in four straight seasons in 2016-19 with Texas. The Tigers viewed him as a potential reclamation project.

He failed to produced enough to warrant a spot on the roster during the second half.

“We weren’t seeing the progress that we needed,” Hinch said.

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Hill will man CF

The oft-injured Hill will play a significant outfield role. He last played during a doubleheader June 30 vs. Cleveland, returning from a shoulder injury suffered three weeks earlier while making a great catch against the wall at Comerica Park. He was sent back to Triple-A after he recovered, but Hinch sees Hill as a key component to the defense.

Hill, who batted .286 (4-for-14) and stole four bases in eight games during his prior callup, will see ample time in center.

“I really wanted him back in the big leagues to man center field quite a bit,” Hinch said. “Derek’s defense is really second to none in our organization in the outfield.”

The 25-year-old was the Tigers’ first-round pick in 2014 out of Elk Grove (Calif.) High School. He has played 23 games in his MLB career over the past two seasons, batting 5-for-25.

Young infielders

Like Mazara, Castro has been a mess at the plate. Unlike Mazara, Castro remains part of the organization’s plans.

Castro, 24, is batting .214 with six homers and 28 RBIs in 74 games this season, after hitting .349 with the same amount of homers in 36 games last season, finishing fourth in AL Rookie of the Year voting.

“We’ve got to get Willi back on track,” Hinch said. “Our best team has him involved and has him playing virtually every day. … He even admitted that to me, that he’s just struggled too long. His confidence is not shaken. He can definitely play at this level.”

Castro has nine errors between second base and shortstop, and will focus on second base in Toledo.

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Paredes, who has appeared in 11 games with the Tigers this season, will have opportunities at second and third base.

The 22-year-old has five hits in 29 at-bats with the Tigers. He batted .220 (22-for-100) in 34 games last season. The Free Press ranked Paredes as the Tigers’ No. 4 prospect entering the season.

In 44 games with the Mud Hens this season, Paredes has five home runs and 23 RBIs, and holds a .261 batting average, .357 on-base percentage and .412 slugging percentage.

Cameron not close to returning

Daz Cameron, who is on the injured list with a right toe sprain, will attempt to run this weekend. He remains at least a couple weeks away from returning.

Hinch sees Hill, Cameron, Akil Baddoo and Robbie Grossman as his main outfield options when Cameron comes off the IL.

Bartee receives coaching promotion

The Tigers promoted Kimera Bartee to the major league coaching staff. Bartee, who had been the team’s baserunning and outfield coordinator in the minor leagues, will become the team’s first base coach, and continue working with outfielders.

Chip Hale, who had been the team’s third base coach, left to become the Arizona Wildcats’ head coach.

George Lombard will return strictly to bench coach duties; Ramon Santiago is shifting from first to third.

“He was very excited to move over to third base,” Hinch said. “It is deemed somewhat of a promotion.”

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