With Tigers’ Javier Báez dinged up, Zach McKinstry gets shot at shortstop

Detroit News

Baltimore — Javier Báez jammed the middle finger on his left hand sliding into second base in the first inning Saturday night and finished the game with no issue.

It was a different story when he woke up Sunday morning.

“It was swollen and sore,” manager AJ Hinch said. “We talked about it and we needed to give him a day.”

Zach McKinstry replaced Báez in the starting lineup, getting his first work at shortstop this season. He’s played 10 games at shortstop in his career, nine of those last season with the Cubs.

Hinch slotted McKinstry into the fifth spot in his batting order.

“His results have picked up and that’s good, but his at-bats have steadily gotten better and better,” Hinch said. “He will mix in a bad at-bat like every hitter does, but I love how he is starting to settle in and conduct at-bats the way we expected him to when we acquired him.”

McKinstry, whose home run Saturday night was the Tigers’ lone run, is 5 for his last 13 with a double and two homers.

“I’m happy for him,” Hinch said. “If he continues to contribute the way he has, it warrants the playing time we’re giving him.”

Báez is riding an eight-game hitting streak. Hinch expects him to be back in the starting lineup in Milwaukee on Monday. In fact, Hinch said Báez could possibly be available off the bench Sunday if needed.

“We will see how it feels throughout the day,” Hinch said.

Change at the top

The other lineup change Sunday was moving Akil Baddoo back into the leadoff spot against right-handed starter Grayson Rodriguez.

Nick Maton, who had been hitting leadoff against right-handers, is battling through an 0-for-21 skid.

“Maton needs a day,” Hinch said. “Mentally, he’s been grinding. We’ve seen his at-bats steadily get more inconsistent. That’s signals to me that he’s trying to do a little too much, trying to carry the load for everybody, especially on the days we don’t perform offensively.”

Maton has just one hit since he delivered the walk-off home run against the Giants on April 15. He’s not striking out a lot — five times in his last 26 plate appearances. But as he’s pressed, he’s been chasing more pitches and swinging and missing more often (30% whiff rate).

“There’s been some indecisiveness,” Hinch said. “Everybody needs a day, physically and mentally, at some point. Today was good day for Maton.”

Baddoo is only hitting .226 but he has a 13.5% walk rate and a .317 on-base average.

“With Maton out, it was how can we create pressure as a team,” Hinch said. “And the best way is Akil at the top to hopefully get on base and disrupt the rhythm of controlling the run game. I’ve gone back and forth on that (hitting Maton or Baddoo in the top spot), whether you want what Maton can bring (some pop at the top) or the explosiveness of Baddoo.”

chris.mccosky@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @cmccosky

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