The Detroit Tigers’ lineup received a boost in the final game of their series against the Baltimore Orioles, as outfielders Austin Meadows and Víctor Reyes returned to the lineup.
Meadows missed the first two games of the series at Comerica Park while dealing with an inner-ear issue and vertigo symptoms. Reyes was placed on the 10-day injured list on April 23 with a left quad strain before spending a four-game rehab stint with Triple-A Toledo.
Manager A.J. Hinch slotted Meadows into right field and the No. 3 spot in the lineup, behind Javier Báez, and Reyes at No. 6, between Jonathan Schoop (third base) and Harold Castro (center field).
“It’s good to be back in there today,” Meadows said before Sunday’s game. “Been a tough week, but, yeah, hopefully I can put this behind me, get out there each and every day and not have any more hiccups.”
But Meadows’ return lasted just one inning and one-at-bat. After popping out foul to the catcher to end the first inning, Meadows was replaced by Willi Castro in the field to start the second, with Castro playing left and Robbie Grossman shifting from left to right.
Reyes’ return lasted only slightly longer; after doubling into the right-field corner in his first at-bat in the second inning, Reyes was removed in favor of pinch-runner Derek Hill. Reyes’ departure was announced as the result of a right quad strain.
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Meadows opened the season as one of the Tigers’ most consistent hitters, with a .284 average, .747 OPS and 11 RBIs over his first 22 games. But he missed the final three games of the Tigers’ series in Houston last weekend, then went 4-for-22 (.211) in five games against the Oakland Athletics in Detroit.
Despite missing the Tigers’ back-to-back victories over the O’s, Meadows worked on his hitting in the batting cages.
“I was in the cage yesterday, continuing to do baseball stuff,” Meadows said. “So, yeah, I haven’t … missed a beat on that end.”
After going hitless in his first game with the Mud Hens, Reyes picked up seven hits in 12 at-bats against the Louisville Bats (the Cincinnati Reds’ affiliate), including a double and two home runs.
“Thank God I never stopped hitting,” Reyes said through interpreter Carlos Guillen. “I felt pretty good.”
Reyes is hitting .261 with a double, a triple and four RBIs in 10 games with the Tigers this season.
After wrapping up Sunday’s game, the Tigers are headed to St. Petersburg, Florida, for a three-game series against the Tampa Bay Rays. It will be Meadows’ first games against his former teammates since he was traded to the Tigers in early April.
The deal, in which the Tigers sent 23-year-old infielder Isaac Paredes to the Rays, wasn’t Meadows’ first time being shipped between organizations. A first-round pick of the Pirates in 2013, he was traded to the Rays in July 2018.
“This is kinda going back to when the Pirates traded me,” Meadows said. “I understand the business side of it and how it works. You know, being traded this year, I’ve had a little experience being traded in the past and knowing how to handle it and stuff like that. I understand that they have a job to do. That job was to get rid of me to get somebody else, and that’s just the way it goes. That’s the way it goes in this business, there’s no hard feelings. … A lot of good relationships over there, lot of good friends over there.”
Still, Meadows is looking forward to seeing some of his friends on the Rays, including 2019 American League All-Star Brandon Lowe, 2021 AL Rookie of the Year Randy Arozarena and outfielder Manuel Margot.
“There’s a list of guys that I have a lot of respect for, that I developed really good relationships with,” Meadows said. “It’s like a family there.”
There’s one other big reason Meadows is looking forward to returning to Tropicana Field, a stadium known for its quirky dimensions and ground rules – including a set of overhead catwalks that can alter a ball’s trajectory or result in an unexpected home run.
“A little bit easier to hit homers there,” joked Meadows, who has three doubles and two triples at Comerica Park this season, but no home runs. “It’s a good place, it’s an interesting place. You’re inside at all times, trying to keep track of what time of day it is. But it’s a nice 70 degrees in there, and you know you’re gonna get to play every day in there.”
Meadows is a career .264/.340/.464 hitter at Tropicana Field, with 25 home runs in 167 games there.
“Maybe I’ll get my first (home run) there; it’ll be great.”
There’s one more reason Meadows is ready to return to the Tampa Bay area.
“I have a boat back home, so, we’ve got an off day (Thursday, before the Tigers’ series in Cleveland), I might be able to take that outside. I’ve been missing fishing for a couple months now.”
Faedo returns to Florida
Another Tiger looking forward to his return to the Trop? Right-handed starter Alex Faedo.
The rookie is slated to make his third career start Monday night against the Rays. Faedo has a 3.60 ERA with eight strikeouts and three walks over 10 innings with the Tigers, including Wednesday’s start in which he struck out seven A’s over five innings.
“Different team, different game plan,” Faedo said Sunday. “But I think at the same time, you can pick the good and the bad, that I made a lot better execution the second time than the first time, and I think if you’re executing, you’re obviously giving yourself a better chance.”
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Despite his inexperience at the big-league level, Faedo is plenty familiar with the Rays’ ballpark: The Tampa, Florida, native grew up attending Rays games before heading off to the University of Florida and becoming the Tigers’ first-round draft pick (No. 18 overall) in 2017.
“Yeah, I grew up a Rays fan, and then transitioned to Tigers-only fan, then a baseball fan once I got over here,” Faedo said.
“I liked it because there was never any rainouts, and the weather’s pretty nice in there,” he said of Tropicana Field. “You’re watching big-league baseball, so it’s always cool no matter where it is.”
The 26-year-old is also navigating a recovery from Tommy John surgery, which he underwent in December 2020. The recovery and rehab sidelined him for all of the 2021 season. Faedo is still working on his secondary pitches; against the A’s, he picked up 10 swings-and-misses with his slider.
“I think every day is a little different,” he said. “I think you still get that for a long time. Somedays, it’s just like normal pitching before surgery. When you’re out there, it’s not always the same, so you just gotta make adjustments. I’ve thrown a lot of bullpens now, so I definitely don’t have any excuses not to be sharp with those (secondary) pitches.”
Still, with Saturday’s hand injury to starter Michael Pineda, Faedo would seem to have a spot in the Tigers’ rotation going forward. So what’s Faedo’s plan against the Rays?
“Consistency, execution,” Faedo said. “Just keep trying to figure out my game and feel comfortable. Do what the scouting reports say and attack hitters and be able to pitch in the zone.”
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