Tigers’ Rogers proving to be part of the solution at catcher

Detroit News

Dunedin, Florida – One slice of roster anxiety a front office and manager are thrilled to avoid is catcher.

Toughest position on the field. Defense, pitch-calling, watching opponents on bases that for some speedsters are more like starting blocks – it’s a monster assignment.

And then, oh, by the way, please hit for average and power.

Jake Rogers is treating Tigers front-office chief Scott Harris and team skipper AJ Hinch to less stress about their catching at the end of spring camp. They instead can fret about more perilous roster spots.

Nice assurance there when Rogers hasn’t played in a big-league game since 2021, all due to Tommy John surgery.

“I think he’s been great on two fronts,” Hinch said Saturday as the Tigers got ready for an evening game against the Blue Jays at TD Ballpark.

“One is, some of the receiving work he did during rehabbing has shown up in (Grapefruit League) games. And I think that tells us a lot about Jake.

“He didn’t take the Tommy John rehab as solely a fix-your-throwing-arm routine. There was a lot more to it.”

Which brought Hinch to that second point as Rogers, who next month turns 28, gets set for a 2023 season in a Tigers catching tandem with Eric Haase.

“He’s caught back up to playing baseball again every day,” Hinch said. “Obviously, he has a couple of home runs (three, actually), he’s run the bases, he’s integrated himself back into the club culture.”

Rogers has not been part of an MLB boxscore since July 18, 2021, a game against the Twins in which he went 1-for-4, with his hit a double. He was batting only .239, but it was Rogers’ power that was behind that .802 OPS ahead of his shutdown and surgery.

In the past month’s Grapefruit League games, Rogers is batting .258, with a .303 on-base average, and a .916 OPS, thanks in large part to that .616 slugging percentage (three homers to go with his two doubles).

Surprising, this relatively smooth overall merge into MLB’s fast lanes.

“He’s picked up right where he left off,” Hinch said. “And all of that in the midst of competition after we make a trade for a catcher.

“There was pressure that comes along with that,” said Hinch, referring to Donny Sands (since optioned to Triple-A Toledo) being included in January’s trade package that sent Gregory Soto to the Phillies. “Is he going to make the team?

“This has been a pretty rewarding camp for him.”

So, too, Hinch said, does Rogers bring more serenity to Tigers pitchers.

“The more we dominate the strike zone, the better his receiving gets, the better his relationship with the pitchers gets.

“We can make strikes better strikes, or make marginal strikes full-fledged strikes.

“The other comfort is what he brings to pitchers outside the strike zone. He can control the running game, whether throwing guys out or blocking pitches. He takes a lot of pressure off our pitchers.”

Lynn Henning is a freelance writer and retired Detroit News sports reporter.

Articles You May Like

The Detroit Tigers aren’t afraid to say it: Postseason. Why you shouldn’t be, either.
White Sox vs. Tigers Game Highlights (5/25/23) | MLB Highlights
Tigers Notes: Skubal, Manning, Turnbull, Carpenter
How Detroit Tigers’ Alex Faedo pitched best start of his MLB career: ‘He was incredible’
Detroit Tigers’ Tarik Skubal to face hitters in Detroit; Casey Mize suffers back soreness

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *