St. Petersburg, Fla. — At some point, Derek Hill might want to ask somebody on the Major League rules committee where exactly he’s supposed to run when he’s trying to beat out a bunt.
“Nah, I don’t want no part of that,” he said before the game Monday.
Back on April 29 in Los Angeles, he was drilled in the back by Dodgers pitcher Tyler Anderson running to first after he laid down a bunt in the third inning. He was called out for runner interference. The umpire ruled he veered slightly out of the running lane.
On Sunday, Hill pushed a bunt between the pitcher and first base and then was called safe by the first-base umpire after he deftly eluded the tag.
However, home-plate umpire Ryan Wills immediately overturned the call, saying Hill went out of the baseline to elude the tag.
“It’s an interpretation,” manager AJ Hinch said. “It’s a judgment call. Letter of the law, he’s probably right. But it’s an athletic baseball play that happened close to the base. There’s that 45-foot mark where the baseline gets a little judicious. You can’t go in and you can’t go out. But we don’t want to be robotic and go right down the middle.
“Derek’s been penalized on both.”
Hill doesn’t love losing two base hits to a rule interpretation, but he’s not stressing about it.
“Those are the rules,” he said. “It is more of the umpire’s discretion. But it doesn’t bother me in the slightest. Got to follow the rules, point blank, period.”
But if Hill followed the rule to the letter, he would’ve had no chance to being safe on the play Sunday. He would have run right into the tag.
“Yep, I would’ve been out,” he said. “It’s all part of it.”
Hill, though, won’t be deterred. Asked it he might shy away from pushing bunts toward first base, he said, “Heck no! I’m going to do it tonight.”
Different type of collision
Spencer Torkelson’s been taking a beating lately. He’s got a massive scrape on one knee from his diving stop of a ball Saturday night. He’s got bruises on both legs. He was doing a scoop drill Saturday before the game and a ball hopped up and clipped his face.
But on Sunday, he did the bruising, albeit inadvertently.
Orioles’ shortstop Jorge Mateo dropped a bunt down the first-base line in the second inning that ultimately rolled foul. Mateo was sprinting toward first. Torkelson was sprinting in looking to scoop up the ball and make a swipe tag.
The result was a collision that ended up taking Mateo out of the game with sore ribs. Replays show that Torkelson was actually pulling up when Mateo hit him. Torkelson, who was stationary, never budged. Mateo went down hard and stayed down.
“I just looked at the replay,” Torkelson said Sunday after the game. “He changed direction. If he keeps going straight, we don’t collide.”
Replay confirmed that. Mateo clearly took a couple of steps inside the baseline and initiated the contact.
Torkelson was on the other end of a collision with a stationary target in spring training. Javier Báez was camped under a pop up and Torkelson ran into him. Báez stayed up and made the catch. Torkelson went down in a heap.
Torkelson did not start Monday night, but it had nothing to do with his health. It had everything to do with getting Harold Castro’s hot left-handed bat in the lineup against the Rays’ Corey Kluber.
There were a lot of familiar faces in and around the Tigers’ clubhouse before the game. With TigerTown just 54 miles down the road in Lakeland, a bunch of rehabbing players and members of the Tigers’ player development department came over to spend time with the team.
“It’s not organizational meetings, but we did invite a lot of people here to try and keep the organization connected,” Hinch said. “It’s so close by and this is our only trip down here.”
Vice president of player development Ryan Garko, pitching coordinator Gabe Ribas and field and catching coordinator Ryan Sienko met with Hinch and some of the players. In addition, rehabbing players Jake Rogers, Casey Mize, Tyler Alexander, Kyle Funkhouser, Jose Cisnero and others were expected to be around the team.
“They are on our team, they are part of this,” Hinch said. “Sometimes when you are down in Lakeland for too long you can feel disconnected from the Major League team. It’s nice to have those guys here.”
Around the horn
With outfielders Austin Meadows (vertigo) and Victor Reyes on the injured list (right quad strain), the Tigers called up Daz Cameron from Triple-A Toledo. Cameron has been swinging a hot bat for the Mud Hens, hitting .364, slugging .546 with a .917 OPS in his last eight games. He had four hits and was a triple short of a cycle Sunday. “I feel good, I feel like myself,” Cameron said. “I am aware of what I am capable of bringing to this ballclub.” It’s his third call-up this season.
…It didn’t factor in the decision to call up Cameron, but Hinch said that outfielder Akil Baddoo was dealing with soreness in his oblique area and hasn’t been playing much at Toledo.
… Hinch said right-hander Matt Manning (shoulder) will make his scheduled rehab start for the Mud Hens in Indianapolis on Wednesday. There was some talk about him making that start for the Tigers after Michael Pineda broke the middle finger on his right hand on Saturday.
… Former Tigers infielder Isaac Paredes was called up from Triple A by the Rays before the game. Brandon Lowe was placed on the injured list with back soreness. He was hitting .265 at Dunham. He went 5 for 19 in his first stint with the Rays last month.
Tigers at Rays
► First pitch: 6:40 p.m. Tuesday, Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, Florida
► TV/Radio: BSD/97.1 FM
► RHP Beau Brieske (0-2, 3.86), Tigers: Waiting for Brieske to start an outing as well as he finishes. In innings 1-3 in his four big-league starts, he’s allowed 10 runs, five home runs and six walks. In innings 4-6, the 33 hitters he’s faced are 2 for 29, no runs. He’s still having issues with right-handed hitters. Righties have posted a .941 OPS against him (lefties .395) and four of the five homers he’s allowed have been by righties.
► LHP Shane McClanahan (2-2, 2.52), Rays: Just a whole lot of nasty with his 98-mph fastball and elite change-up, curve and slider. He leads baseball with 58 strikeouts in just 39.1 innings. He has a 31% chase rate and a 39% whiff rate. Hitters are swinging and missing on 53% of their swings at his change-up.