Tigers playing long game, opting to give Javier Báez a rest day amid skid

Detroit News

Detroit — It’s really a Catch-22 for a manager.

Sitting your $140 million starting shortstop in the midst of a 3-15 skid seems counterintuitive in the short-term. But running him out there every day during a grueling 32-game, 30-day patch of the schedule doesn’t bode well for his health long-term.

Pick your poison. That’s what Tigers manager AJ Hinch did Thursday, opting to give Javier Báez a day off in the finale against the Athletics.

“We need his productivity and we need his energy,” Hinch said. “But we also need to pay attention to his health. We’re trying to freshen some of these guys up. We did the same for Robbie (Grossman) Wednesday night.”

Like most of the Tigers’ lineup, Báez has been scuffling. He’s hitting .225 on the season, slugging .348, with two homers and 11 RBIs. In 11 games this month, he’s hitting .156 with no RBIs. Seems like a good time to give him a blow.

“Everybody needs a mental day at some point,” Hinch said. “Trying to pick the right time is hard enough as it is, let alone when you are going through a stretch of games where you’re not having success. You don’t ever want to sit your better players. But it’s chasing your own tail if you don’t stay diligent with the rest, as well.

“We need our whole roster to play well and part of that comes with balancing out playing time.”

Greene update

Forty days after breaking a bone in his right foot, Tigers outfielder Riley Greene may finally be cleared to begin baseball activities. He was scheduled to undergo an exam Thursday.

“If all goes as expected, he can start ratcheting up baseball activity,” Hinch said. “Big checkup for him today and then it’s time to go and get it going. His running program will increase, the hitting program increases. We’re encouraged that he’s about to be cleared to be a baseball player again.

“That will be a sight for sore eyes.”

Greene, the club’s No. 2-rated prospect, was projected to be the Opening Day starter in center field until he fouled a Gerrit Cole fastball off his right foot. The force of the ball was such that it broke a bone (non-displaced) on the bottom of his foot.

If the original timeline of six to eight weeks holds, Greene could be back competing by the end of the month.

Eye of the beholder

It was a familiar sight during his years as Tigers manager. Brad Ausmus, now the bench coach for the Athletics, popped out of the dugout before the Tigers came to bat in the bottom of the fifth inning with his catcher’s mitt and mask.

He warmed up starting pitcher Zach Logue while catcher Sean Murphy was strapping on the gear. Ausmus, a three-time Gold Glove catcher over his 18-year playing career, did that some when he managed the Tigers.

He also caught bullpens, which he did here on Tuesday.

“I’ve got to do something,” Ausmus shrugged. “Can’t just bench coach all the time. I do it for the hell of it.”

Hinch is also a former big-league catcher. But don’t look for him to be warming up pitchers between innings.

“That’s stupid,” he said with a chuckle. “It’s all downside. There’s no upside to that at all. I’m happy for him, glad he got through it, but zero upside. Like, we all know he can catch. We didn’t need a reminder.”

Around the horn

Tigers shortstop prospect Ryan Kreidler had surgery to repair a broken bone in his hand suffered when he was hit by a pitch April 26. “He had a pin put in the hand,” Hinch said. “He’s already doing strengthening stuff and he’s throwing a little bit, which is faster than anyone would have predicted. He’s doing quite well.”

… Outfielder Victor Reyes had three hits including a home run in his second rehab game with Toledo. The plan is for him to play the outfield on back-to-back days (Thursday and Friday) and then possibly be in a position to be activated.

On deck: Orioles

Series: Three games at Comerica Park, Detroit

First pitch: Friday — 7:10 p.m.; Saturday — 4:10 p.m.; Sunday — 1:10 p.m.

TV/radio: All three games on BSD/97.1 FM

Probables: Friday — RHP Jordan Lyles (2-2, 4.05) vs. LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (0-2, 4.50); Saturday — LHP Bruce Zimmermann (2-1, 2.67) vs. RHP Michael Pineda (1-2, 3.43); Sunday — RHP Tyler Wells (1-2, 3.75) vs. LHP Tarik Skubal (2-2, 2.94).

Scouting report

Lyles, Orioles: The much-traveled, 12-year veteran, who has led the American League in earned runs allowed the last two seasons, is presently leading the league in hits allowed (39). But he’s coming off two solid starts, allowing three earned runs in 13.1 innings against the Red Sox and Royals.

Rodriguez, Tigers: He was on-point in Houston, holding the Astros to one hit (a solo homer by Jose Altuve) with eight strikeouts over 6.2 innings. He was spotting his three fastballs (four-seam, sinker, cutter) with precision. His four-seamer (91-92 mph) has been really sharp, holding hitters to a .175 average and .250 slugging percentage.

chris.mccosky@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @cmccosky    

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