Newly acquired center fielder Jake Marisnick bringing elite defense to Detroit Tigers

Detroit Free Press

PHILADELPHIA — Center fielder Jake Marisnick, an 11-year MLB veteran, rewarded the Detroit Tigers on the first play in his first game. A fly ball from Marcus Semien, crushed 417 feet, was caught by Marisnick at the back of the warning track in the deepest part of left-center field at Comerica Park.

He bounced off the wall after making the catch.

“You can always count on that,” Marisnick said May 31, after the Tigers’ 3-2 win over the Texas Rangers. “First time somewhere, it’s going to you.”

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Marisnick, 32, has played six games since the Tigers acquired him in a trade with Chicago White Sox on May 30 for cash considerations. He is hitting .188 (3-for-16) with one walk and seven strikeouts.

But the Tigers didn’t acquire him to carry the offense.

“It’s a lot of work,” Marisnick said of his defensive prowess. “It happens in batting practice when I’m out there. That’s where it starts, and that’s where I get a lot of my work in. Once I get in the game, it’s just being a kid and chasing the ball down.”

The Tigers acquired Marisnick, a right-handed hitter, to provide above-average defense in the outfield when right fielder Matt Vierling, who has been sidelined with low back soreness, was placed on the injured list.

A spot opened up in center field, which is Marisnick’s primary position, when Riley Greene landed on the injured list with a stress reaction in his left fibula. Naturally, Marisnick has filled in as the Tigers’ center fielder.

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“We were doing this before Riley got hurt,” said Tigers manager A.J. Hinch, who managed Marisnick with the Houston Astros from 2015-19. “We wanted to fill in some of our depth and figure out how we were going to take the playing time from when Vierling got hurt. We needed a right-handed presence. Familiarity helps, but he plays good center field and is a good character makeup guy.”

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In six games, Marisnick has met the Tigers’ expectations with plus-1 defensive runs saved in center field. (For reference, Greene is worth minus-2 DRS in 51 games in center field, while Vierling is worth minus-1 DRS in four games in center field.)

Marisnick has caught four fly balls on the warning track and two fly balls directly in front of the warning track.

His best catch, which had a 70% catch probability, occurred in the eighth inning Sunday against the Chicago White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field. Marisnick tracked a 392-foot fly ball from Andrew Vaughn to left-center field, and by making the leaping catch against the wall, he kept the game tied at two runs apiece.

The defense from Marisnick has been outstanding.

“He’s been at this level for a long time,” Hinch said May 31 following Marisnick’s first game, which featured two hits — including an RBI single — and a flurry of catches. “It’s a nice way to introduce yourself to a lot of (teammates) he doesn’t know. The first ball is hit to him, of course. That’s the way baseball works.”

First rehab outing for Beau Brieske

Right-hander Beau Brieske (right ulnar nerve entrapment) completed the first start of his rehab assignment Wednesday with High-A West Michigan. It was his first game since spring training.

The 25-year-old tossed one scoreless inning with two strikeouts and threw 10 of his 15 pitches for strikes.

Brieske, who started 15 games for the Tigers last season, is scheduled to appear in his next rehab outing Sunday with the Whitecaps. He posted a 4.19 ERA with 25 walks and 54 strikeouts in 81⅔ innings in 2022.

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Contact Evan Petzold at or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold.

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