Detroit Tigers manager AJ Hinch turned his head and looked to home plate at Comerica Park, where outfielders Akil Baddoo and Derek Hill were taking swings off the pitching machine before Tuesday’s series opener with the Los Angeles Angels.
“Well, it looks like they’re hitting,” Hinch said sarcastically.
His two youngest and most exciting outfielders — the 23-year-old Baddoo and the 25-year-old Hill — are working back from injuries sustained Aug. 10 in a frightening full-speed collision in Baltimore. The worst-case scenarios were eliminated the next day: Baddoo landed on the seven-day concussion protocol injured list and Hill went to the 10-day IL with a left ribcage contusion.
The first to return appears to be Baddoo, who could play Thursday against the Angels following a brief rehab assignment for Triple-A Toledo. He went through full baseball activities Tuesday, marking his final day of concussion protocol according to Hinch, without issues.
“He hasn’t had any symptoms whatsoever from the onset of the injury,” Hinch said Tuesday. “If he can get through today and feel good, then we’ve got to talk to the (MLB) Players Association and the league to get him cleared. He’s ready to play.”
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The Tigers also want Hill to play for Triple-A Toledo before he returns, but he isn’t quite ready. On Tuesday, Hill completed full baseball activities without restrictions for the first time. He is still experiencing “a little bit” of soreness in his ribs, Hinch said.
A plan for Hill’s rehab assignment is coming soon.
“If there was a base hit to center and he’d have to come in and make a throw to home, that would create a little bit of pain for him,” Hinch said. “He’s still pretty symptomatic with that. Given that it’s a bruise, we’ve got to maintain some discipline that we don’t irritate the area anymore. But it’s the one play. Once we put him in the outfield, we can’t guarantee him that he’s not going to have to do that. That’s been the delay for him.”
Baddoo is hitting .267 with six triples, 10 home runs, 45 RBIs and 14 stolen bases (in 18 attempts) over 93 games. Hill, meanwhile, is at .250 with one homer, eight RBIs and six stolen bases (in eight attempts) over 28 games.
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Paredes in Toledo
Infielder Isaac Paredes has been on the injured list since July 22, retroactive to July 20 with a right hip strain. He started a rehab assignment for Triple-A Toledo on Tuesday.
Paredes, 22, needed a five-day shutdown in early August because of a setback during his first rehab assignment. He went 1-for-7 with a double and two walks in Toledo, but the Tigers were forced to send him to Lakeland, Florida, for further evaluation.
The good news: Paredes didn’t need to be in Lakeland for long.
He competed in three games for Low-A Lakeland, going 1-for-9 with one home run, two RBIs, three walks and three strikeouts. After that, he was ready to return to the Mud Hens, which means a return to Detroit could happen soon.
Paredes has played 14 games for the Tigers in 2021, hitting .256 with one double, one triple, one home run, four RBIs, six walks and five strikeouts.
Before Tuesday’s game, the Tigers scratched catcher Eric Haase from the lineup with lower-back tightness. Grayson Greiner filled in for him behind the plate, working with rookie right-hander Casey Mize against the Angels.
The severity of Haase’s injury is unclear.
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Haase, 28, is hitting .238 with 19 home runs, 49 RBIs, 18 walks and 87 strikeouts over 70 games.
He is in the American League Rookie of the Year race, albeit likely behind teammates Mize and Baddoo. For his July efforts, Haase earned AL Rookie of the Month.
Evan Petzold is a sports reporter at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold. Read more on the Detroit Tigers and sign up for our Tigers newsletter.