In the second inning of Thursday’s game, Báez hit a double off the wall in right field but didn’t hustle out of the batter’s box. On the next play, he forgot how many outs there were on a fly ball and was doubled up to end the inning.
Before the third inning, Tigers manager A.J. Hinch walked down the dugout steps to the tunnel leading to the clubhouse with Báez. They shared a conversation, and the former two-time All-Star shortstop was removed from the game. He is expected to be in the starting lineup for Friday’s game.
“My mind is everywhere right now,” Báez said after Thursday’s 3-1 win over the Toronto Blue Jays. “I’m just trying to focus on my hitting and my timing. The only reason I lost the count of the outs, it was because I was hitting sixth. I thought I was the third batter in that inning. That’s the only reason. … He made the decision, and I respect it. He’s the manager, and we got to respect what he does.”
For the bottom of the third, Jonathan Schoop came off the bench and replaced Báez as the No. 6 hitter in the batting order. He entered as the third baseman, while Nick Maton shifted from third base to shortstop.
“I don’t want to embarrass anybody,” Hinch said Thursday. “I don’t want to lessen our bench. I don’t want to take out one of our starters who’s a premium player. But I also don’t want to see a team make mental mistakes.”
Báez was hitting sixth in the lineup for the first time this season and for the third time in his career with the Tigers.
“That was just in mind,” Báez said. “Otherwise, I was just thinking about my timing. I was just so focused on hitting the ball, and I hit it good, and I took my time out of the box. I got to second, but I really took my time out of the box because I was so focused on hitting the ball good.”
Through 12 games, Báez is hitting .122 with three walks and eight strikeouts. The double in Thursday’s second inning, which he seemingly thought would be a home run since he didn’t run hard out of the batter’s box, marked his first extra-base hit.
“Anybody can make a mistake,” Báez said. “At this point, the way we’re playing, and the way I’m playing, it’s obviously going to be worse. If I’m hot and I have seven homers and I make that same mistake, I would have stayed in the game. But I got no excuses.”
On June 22, 2021, Báez was benched by Chicago Cubs manager David Ross for forgetting how many outs there were in the fourth inning. The Cubs lost, 4-0, to Cleveland at Wrigley Field.
“I never want to be out of the lineup,” Báez told reporters after getting benched nearly two years ago. “I respect his decision. He told me why it happened, and I said, ‘OK, it’s your decision.'”
Hinch addressed those mistakes with Vierling and Haase.
“It’s not even really all about Javy,” Hinch said. “If you watch the last couple of series, we’ve made a number of mental mistakes, and the one thing we can control is our preparedness and our readiness. Javy happened to be the runner that made the big mistake where I made the move, but it’s a message to our whole team that we’ve got to clean that up.”
Báez signed a six-year, $140 million contract with the Tigers in December 2021.