Somewhere under all that catching gear Eric Haase normally wears is a little kid who grew up around here, watching the Tigers and doing Michigan things. It doesn’t always come out, but it’s there. The same might be said for Jack White. On Thursday, the two local kids done good crossed paths.
Some of us are old enough to remember those couple of years when White was around the Tigers all the time. While the stars gravitated to him, he seemed to appreciate hanging with grinders such as then-catcher Bryan Holaday. White remains partners with former Tiger Ian Kinsler and others in the Warstic bat company.
It was fun to see White back around the team last week to perform the national anthem for the first time in his incredible career. And yet, it made total sense that he would strike up a conversation with Haase, the catcher-turned slugging outfielder-turned Tigers phenom.
Not surprisingly, Haase was pumped.
“It was awesome,” he said Thursday. “I’m a huge rock fan. I tend to lean toward a little harder rock; you can probably tell by my intros and stuff. But obviously, the White Stripes were big when I was coming up. My wife’s side of the family loves them. Obviously being from Detroit, I’ve always known them.
“I had a couple of chances to meet [White] this offseason. Couldn’t make it happen, so I was kicking myself about that, and then I come down here, and he’s out here. It was fantastic.”
It was the latest moment in Haase’s rise to stardom where he had to almost pinch himself. Even being in the Majors for Opening Day was a first; he played pro baseball for a decade without experiencing that. Remember, the Tigers didn’t call him up last year until about a month into the season.
Haase thought it was crazy when he was batted behind Miguel Cabrera last summer. Now, he’s meeting rock stars. He admittedly put so much of his focus into staying in the Majors last year that he didn’t always appreciate such moments. Now that he has a set role, he’s allowing himself to soak in the moments a bit.
“I’m walking out here and seeing Jack White, and it’s like, ‘Dude, what is going on?’” Haase laughed. “It’s just kind of all-encompassing. The whole last year has been an awesome ride, and the team looks so much better this year, just a great group of guys. I think we’re really shaping up to win a lot of baseball games, and it’s exciting.”
“Just me playing Tigers baseball is so fun to me,” Haase explained after the win. “This clubhouse is awesome. Just to get a ‘W’ on Opening Day is huge. However way it came, it was going to be exciting.”
One day later, Haase had the chance to watch White perform. He and his wife caught White’s second concert on his just-started tour Saturday at Masonic Temple along with coaches Josh Paul and Mike Hessman. They missed White’s on-stage wedding by a day, but Haase raved about the show and had a chance to talk with White backstage afterward.
“It was awesome,” Haase said. “I’d never seen him live before. It was a really small venue and it was loud. … I actually got to talk with him for a little bit after, and he was telling us all about [the wedding] and stuff. I was like, ‘Dude, you couldn’t wait until I was here to do it?’”
IN THE NEWS
Kudos to the Tigers for a touching Opening Day pregame tribute remembering first-base coach Kimera Bartee, who passed away suddenly in December. Bartee’s family was on the field fighting tears as they watched a video tribute, complete with highlights from his playing career, his smiling face in victory celebrations as a coach and clips from his community appearances. Several Tigers were also emotional.
Though manager A.J. Hinch hinted he could get creative with his lineup when he talked about batting Austin Meadows somewhere in the top half of the order, it was a surprise to see Meadows batting second on Opening Day. Yet Meadows has posted the best at-bats of any Tiger so far this season, and it’s not particularly close.
Don’t expect to hear much from the Tigers on MLB’s new PitchCom system for relaying pitch signs electronically from catcher to pitcher. Tigers catchers tried it out on a limited basis in Spring Training but found it slowed down their signs and, in turn, the game.
Torkelson said his time at third base in the farm system helped his defense at first, but he also credited Alan Trammell and Minor League infield coordinator Billy Boyer with working with him in Spring Training.
Friday’s game-winning single from Javier Báez marked the Tigers’ first walkoff victory on Opening Day since they beat Kansas City on March 31, 2014. Who had the game-winning hit in that game?
A. Nick Castellanos
B. Rajai Davis
C. Álex González
D. Austin Jackson
MINOR LEAGUE UPDATE
Triple-A Toledo: The Mud Hens lost four in a row after their Opening Day win over Rochester. However, infield prospects Ryan Kreidler and Kody Clemens are off to hot starts. Kreidler, the Tigers’ No. 7 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, had an RBI double on Opening Day and hit a pair of solo homers on Wednesday. Clemens, the Tigers’ No. 18 prospect, had a double, triple and home run while starting at four positions over five games.
Double-A Erie: The SeaWolves won low-scoring battles in their first two games against Akron at UPMC Park. Reese Olson, the Tigers’ No. 17 prospect, struck out seven RubberDucks over four scoreless innings during a 2-0 Opening Day victory. A day later, the SeaWolves won, 3-2, on a strikeout-wild pitch after Garrett Hill fanned six over four scoreless innings in the start.
High-A West Michigan: The Whitecaps were the only Tigers affiliate to open on the road, splitting their first two games at in-state rival Great Lakes. Parker Meadows, Detroit’s No. 20 prospect and younger brother of new Tigers outfielder Austin Meadows, homered on Opening Day in a 5-1 win Friday. Colt Keith, Detroit’s No. 13 prospect, doubled and tripled Saturday in front of a three-hit effort from Austin Murr before Great Lakes won it in the ninth off RJ Petit.
Low-A Lakeland: The Flying Tigers split their first two games against Tampa. Cristian Santana, the Tigers’ No. 5 prospect, made his stateside Minor League debut with a single and two RBIs Friday in a 9-6 loss, then added two more hits in a 5-1 win Saturday. Jose De La Cruz, the Tigers’ No. 21 prospect, homered to go with three RBIs Saturday in support of No. 16 prospectAlex Faedo, who tossed three scoreless innings of relief for the win in his first outing back from Tommy John surgery.
C: Álex González, acquired by the Tigers just a week earlier to fill in for injured shortstop José Iglesias, delivered a ground-ball single in the bottom of the ninth to score Tyler Collins. It was the second hit for González in his Tigers debut. The 37-year-old delivered just three more hits over eight more games before the Tigers released him on April 20.
April 29, 2014: The Tigers were locked in a duel with the White Sox in Chicago. But with Austin Jackson on third base and two outs in the ninth inning of a 3-3 game, the Tigers had the bottom of their order up, with backup catcher Bryan Holaday facing Ronald Belisario. However, Holaday surprised everyone by dropping a bunt down the third-base line. Jackson dashed home and Holaday scrambled to first as Belisario air-mailed a throw. The RBI was the difference in a 4-3 win. Watch it here.
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