Detroit Tigers have tough decision looming with Niko Goodrum’s imminent return

Detroit Free Press

Jonathan Schoop’s contract extension prior to free agency sends the message the Detroit Tigers are happy to build around their current roster.

“It’s a great step for us to get to keep players here that we can build with. Jonathan took a great step forward in solidifying our lineup and giving us something to build from,” manager AJ Hinch said. “I use that word because it’s the word Al (Avila, Tigers general manager) used, in that we’re in the building. … Jonathan’s been a great foundation for us in our lineup. I love him. I think very highly of him.”

His defensive versatility, allowing the team to get a look at younger players and still keep Schoop in the lineup, helps instill the unselfishness and team culture Hinch desires.

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“… A Gold Glove-caliber player, Jonathan Schoop, asked me to shift positions, that says something,” Hinch said. “It starts with the players and it also is a firm commitment to wanting to do whatever it takes to win. We got to put you in a position to be successful and sometimes that might be outside your comfort zone or outside your norm. So, I’m very proud of the makeup of this club. I do believe they’re all in. I do believe there’s a different vibe going on.”

Niko Goodrum’s return brings tough decisions

Niko Goodrum, out with a calf injury, will soon be activated from the 10-day injured list. Goodrum will meet the Tigers in Baltimore after going 5-for-26 with two walks, two RBIs, three runs and nine strikeouts in seven rehab games with Triple-A Toledo.

“We’ve obviously got a game to play and then we’ve got a decision to make, which is not always comfortable,” Hinch said. “The changes are coming even before the game happens, but Niko’s finished his rehab that we’ve asked him and he’ll be ready to go on Tuesday.”

Goodrum’s return means Willi Castro, Victor Reyes or Zack Short could be sent down but don’t count out a reliever going to Toledo if the Tigers want a deeper bench. A utility player, Goodrum is hitting .220 with six home runs and 18 RBIs in 63 games with the Tigers season.

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Miggy’s day off

Miguel Cabrera will rest during the day game following Saturday night’s 2-1 victory over Clevelandahead of another road series in Baltimore.

“I give Miguel, a series-by-series plan. I’m pretty mapped out especially for him, he’s easy to do because I’m trying to lengthen his season, keep him sharp and healthy,” Hinch said. “I’m going to try to play him at all home games if I can. So I gave him a schedule kind of a week or two in advance; when he’s playing first, when he’s going to DH. If he was gonna fight me about it, he would have fought me a couple of days ago.”

Cabrera remains at 498 career homers, two shy of becoming the 28th player to reach 500.

“There’s an unselfishness of not just putting his race to 500 and his race to 3,000 (hits) as the only priority,” Hinch said.

Other notes

Right-hander Wily Peralta will get the final start against Cleveland this series and the Tigers hope he can follow Tyler Alexander’s lead (one run, none earned, over 5 1/3 innings).

“I want them always to go long so it takes the burden off our bullpen. Whenever the starter can get 18-plus outs. I think that’s a big deal,” Hinch said. “So hopefully (we) can do that. It’s going to take execution again. It’s the difference between day one here and day two here was execution.”

Cleveland right-hander Zach Plesac (6-4, 4.64 ERA) will start against Detroit. Plesac has faced the Tigers twice this season, finishing with a loss (two earned runs over six innings) in his first game of the year and win (seven shutout innings) in his second start of the year.

“He’s a very good pitcher because he reads swings and tempo. He saw the aggressiveness that we had last night. I bet he’s gonna come out and use a slider, use a changeup a little bit more. We’ve got to get him outside his comfort zone.” Hinch said. “Right-handers have hit him better than left-handers because of that changeup. So we need our right-handed hitters to do something against them in order for us to keep the line moving.”

Relief pitcher Robbie Ross Jr., who signed with the Tigers signed to a minor league contract in January, has announced his retirement. He spent the season pitching for the Mud Hens and went 2-8, had a 7.03 ERA, 26 strikeouts and 10 walks through 27 games (32 innings) in the bullpen.

Mia Berry is a sports reporting intern with the Free Press. Reach out via email: mberry@freepress.com.

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