Hinch understands Abreu’s fury, but Tigers won’t back off aggressive pitch plan

Detroit News

Minneapolis — On Sirius-XM Radio’s MLB Radio Tuesday morning, Tigers manager AJ Hinch addressed further his club’s punch-less fracas with the Jose Abreu and the White Sox.

Abreu was hit with an 0-2 fastball by Tigers reliever Alex Lange in the top of the ninth inning of a one-run game at Comerica Park on Monday afternoon. Abreu and the White Sox bench took issue with it and Abreu subsequently made an aggressive, past-the-bag slide at second base on shortstop Niko Goodrum, which prompted the benches and bullpens to empty.

“We didn’t mean to hit him,” Hinch said. “I realized after the game that he’d been hit like 21 times, so I totally get it. This is the last week and they are playing out the schedule getting ready to get into the playoffs. Nobody wants anyone to get hurt.

“But that doesn’t mean you stop competing. It doesn’t mean you’re going to ask us to throw down-and-away fastballs to avoid any sort of issue with people. We aren’t targeting anybody.”

Hinch reiterated that he had no beef with Abreu’s slide and what it was meant to represent.

“When he went into second base, that I think is a result of how the game has evolved,” Hinch said. “You don’t go past the bag anymore. That used to happen all the time in the 80’s, 90’s and early 2000’s. You could go through and upend a guy and knock him into left field and nobody cared because that’s the way you played.

“This generation of players, we don’t do that. So when you do that, it sends a message back to our team that they didn’t appreciate getting hit. … I didn’t think there was any problem because I grew up in a different era.”

Hinch also referenced the postgame comment from White Sox manager Tony La Russa.

“It seems they (Tigers) have issues when someone plays aggressively but not when they pitch aggressively and beyond the limits,” La Russa said. “The game is played two ways, not just one way.”

Hinch said after the game and again on Tuesday, neither he nor his club have any problems playing aggressively.

“The slide going past the base is a bad slide, but I understand Abreu doing that,” Hinch said. “We’re going to pitch inside. We’re going to pitch inside the next six games. Obviously, we don’t want anything bad to happen to anybody and I don’t expect anything bad to happen.

“But you can’t stop competing just because one side doesn’t like it.”

The Tigers will finish the season against the White Sox this weekend at Guaranteed Rate Field.

chris.mccosky@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @cmccosky

On deck: Twins

►First pitch: 6:40 p.m., Target Field, Minneapolis

►TV/radio: BSD, 97.1.

Scouting report

►RHP Casey Mize (7-8, 3.63), Tigers: This will the 30th and last start of what has been an encouraging rookie season. He’s maintained a sub-4.00 ERA since May and a 1.1 WHIP. Four of his five pitches have performed consistently well: Four-seam (.227), slider (.183), split (.206) and curve (.138). The two-seamer has been problematic (.322 average, .557 slug).

►RHP Michael Pineda (8-8, 3.73), Twins: When healthy, he’s been a consistent, solidifying presence in what has been a sketchy rotation. In three seasons in Minnesota, he’s 21-13, with a 3.84 ERA, 1.18 WHIP in 51 starts. He’s allowed just four earned runs in his last four starts covering 18.2 innings.

—Chris McCosky

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