While Tigers aggressively shop Robbie Grossman, Akil Baddoo patiently bides time on pine

Detroit News

Toronto — These days right before the trade deadline are strange times for teams and players, especially for non-contending teams like the Tigers who are waiting for the inevitability that some of their players won’t be around after Tuesday.

The Tigers, as we’ve reported, are expecting to lose one or two of their bullpen pieces. Teams have been sniffing around Michael Fulmer, Joe Jimenez, Gregory Soto, Andrew Chafin and Alex Lange.

But teams also have sent scouts out to watch veteran outfielder Robbie Grossman, a switch-hitter on an expiring contract who is fighting through a down season but certainly capable of catching fire and helping a team down the stretch.

Grossman, 32, was signed to a two-year deal before the 2021 season to serve as a veteran, two-year bridge to the arrival of Riley Greene, Akil Baddoo, Daz Cameron and other young outfielders making their way up the chain.

Because he is not in the plans going forward, the Tigers are expected to be aggressive in trying to move Grossman before the deadline Tuesday. To that end, he has played the last nine games, starting seven of them.

That has impacted Baddoo’s playing time. He’s made just four starts in that stretch. But that is expected to change after the deadline, whether Grossman is traded or not. Baddoo is part of the Tigers’ future and they need to give him consistent playing time to set him up for a more productive 2023 season.

“Akil is still a work in progress,” Hinch said before the game Sunday.

After a wretched start, Baddoo spent 2½ months at Triple-A Toledo, where he slashed .438/.526/.750 in his last 13 games. That success hasn’t carried over to the big leagues yet. He’s just 3 for 27 since being back, albeit in irregular playing time.

“The process is going great,” Baddoo said. “When I get in there I have to make the most of it. You know changes happen quickly. I need to get some good quality at-bats and go from there. You’re always one swing away from turning something into a 20-for-40, just one good swing from getting hot.”

Baddoo understands the drill. Those quality at-bats won’t come sitting on the bench.

“It’s all part of it,” he said. “I feel real comfortable. I’ve been through this my whole career and I will get through it like I always do. Just continue to stay positive, have fun and know the results are always one swing away.”

Haase on fire

Eric Haase has raised his batting average from .178 to .243 since June 15, which is impressive on its own merit. But batting average never has been the central statistic for Haase. It’s always been about the slug. The thing about this current hot streak he’s on — it’s not homer or punchout.

“Forever people have told him he’s a power hitter and he’s always emptied the tank and swung for power,” manager AJ Hinch said. “When he doesn’t, he can still find ways to get some hits. That makes him intriguing.”

In 101 plate appearances since June 15, Haase is hitting .308. His slugging percentage is still a robust .571 with six doubles and six home runs, but he’s producing more runs — 20 RBIs and 16 runs scored.

“It comes down to zone control for him,” Hinch said. “He can have some fast at-bats when he is in swing mode. His more disciplined at-bats are better. The swing and miss is always a concern with whether he plays more than I play him.

“But the production speaks for itself with the opportunities he’s been given.”

Around the horn

Right-hander Matt Manning, out since April 17 with shoulder inflammation, will be slotted in to start the game Tuesday in Minnesota, Hinch confirmed.

…Right-hander Beau Brieske (arm fatigue) was scheduled to make the first of two rehab starts with Triple-A Toledo on Sunday. He is expected to rejoin the Tigers’ rotation during the next homestand.

… Reliever Wily Peralta, who gave up a couple of runs in his rehab outing with the Mud Hens on Saturday, is expected to pitch again on Sunday and then meet the team in Minneapolis and could be activated Tuesday or Wednesday.

…Second baseman Jonathan Schoop, a career 1 for 19 against Blue Jays starter Jose Berrios, was given the day off Sunday. It was his first day off since the All-Star break. He’d played in 98 of the Tigers’ first 102 games.

On deck: Twins

Series: Three games at Target Field, Minneapolis

First pitch: Monday-Tuesday — 7:40; Wednesday — 1:10 p.m.

TV/radio: All three games on Bally Sports Detroit/97.1 FM

Probables: Monday — LHP Tarik Skubal (7-8, 3.67) vs. TBA; Tuesday — RHP Matt Manning (0-0, 2.25) vs. RHP Chris Archer (2-5, 4.04); Wednesday — LHP Tyler Alexander (2-4, 4.10) vs. RHP Joe Ryan (7-4, 3.78).

Scouting report

Skubal, Tigers: It would be helpful if he could get a little defensive support. He’s been victimized by seven unearned runs this season, four in his last three starts. He hasn’t allowed an earned run in 12 innings. Target Field has not been kind to him, either. He hasn’t won there in five starts with a 6.00 ERA. He gave up six runs in five innings there back in April.

TBA, Twins: The Twins pushed Chris Archer’s start to Tuesday creating this opening. It’s possible they call up a pitcher from Triple-A.


Twitter: @cmccosky

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