Tigers’ Baddoo staying upbeat as he grinds to regain traction after quad injury

Detroit News

Detroit — He’s been here before and he’s fought his way out of it before. That, if nothing else, is bringing Akil Baddoo some solace.

“It’s something that I just can’t let myself get frustrated about,” he said. “It’s baseball. I just have to remind myself that all of the time. It’s just one good at-bat and I can turn it around.”

Right now, though, the struggle is real. Before Tuesday, in the 11 games since coming off the injured list on July 7, Baddoo was in a 4-for-34 skid, with 13 strikeouts and three walks. But it started before he strained a quad muscle. Over his last 18 games, he’s 5-for-55 with 19 strikeouts and seven walks.

“I’ve seen him in between a little bit,” manager AJ Hinch said. “He’s very pull-oriented right now. That’s where his power is generally going to be and it’s a little diminished when he goes the other way. Right now, he’s in between the productive line-drive swing and chasing a little bit of power.

“And missing both sides of velocity, both the high-end velocity and the off-speed. That’s a mentally frustrating time for him, and his performance has struggled.”

Getting beat by off-speed pitches has to be especially befuddling to Baddoo, because he’s always hit changeups well. He came into the game Monday hitting .313 against off-speed pitches. But for whatever reason, during this stretch, that pitch has been beating him.

“They’re throwing a lot of them,” Baddoo said. “Consistently. Changeups and breaking balls. It’s just about trying not to do too much. Still staying on the fastball and if I anticipate that the breaking ball is coming, still being able to hit it the opposite way.”

That’s not been happening. Pitchers are attacking him up-and-in with fastballs and then down-and-away with spin and off-speed. He’s been hitting a lot of balls softly to the pull side.

After he encouragingly drew two multi-pitch walks on Thursday, San Diego’s Seth Lugo struck him out three times on Friday. Two of them were three-pitch punch-outs. He was frozen by a fastball in his first at-bat, then went to chasing pitches out of the zone. Four of his six strikes were chase swings in his final two at-bats.

It was the same on Sunday against Joe Musgrove, though he did stay on a breaking ball and drove it to the track in left in the fourth inning. His next at-bat, though, he saw all off-speed, and he punched out.

“I’ve had a few at-bats where I’ve felt a lot better in my legs,” Baddoo said. “I’m just trying to be on the right path with my swing. Just keep working. Just a couple of good swings and I can start feeling good again.”

Trade winds

The two Tigers most talked about — and frankly, most likely to be traded before the Aug. 1 deadline — are starting pitchers Eduardo Rodriguez and Michael Lorenzen. Both could be making their final starts in a Tigers uniform Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively.

But there is another tier of possible trade candidates — relief pitchers. Veterans Jose Cisnero and Chasen Shreve, because of their performance this season and because both are on affordable one-year contracts, have generated some interest from contending teams, more so right now than leverage relievers Alex Lange and Jason Foley, who are under team control through 2025.

“It’s been on my mind a little bit,” Shreve said. “But, you just never know. I had a 2.6 (ERA) or something like that in 2021 and didn’t get traded by the Pirates. And then they released me after the season. So, it’s just like, who knows what’s going to happen.”

Shreve, 33, has appeal for several reasons. He’s in his 10th season and he’s been reliable and durable. He’s thrown 36.1 innings in 41 games with a deceiving 4.46 ERA. Take out two bad outings — one five-run and one three-run anomaly — and his ERA is 2.57.

More importantly, he’s left-handed and he has unique weapons that are effective against right- and left-handed hitters. And he can miss bats. Opponents are hitting .212 against his splitter with a 33% whiff rate. They are hitting .208 against his sweeper. Overall, he’s getting hitters to chase 34% of the time.

That is very useful as a matchup tool, as Tigers manager AJ Hinch has shown this season.

Cisnero offers similar matchup advantages. With his high-spin, 96-mph four-seamer, he’s holding hitters to a .143 average. He’s also a beast against left-handed hitters (.161), which is attractive. Lefties are 0-for-24 against his heater and 1-for-10 against his slider.

“I guess I’m thinking about it, but there really isn’t anything to think about,” Shreve said. “There’s too many moving parts and too many variables. We’ll just see.”

Around the horn

… Tigers catcher Eric Haase was showing off a shiny new gift before the game Tuesday — a spectacular Cartier watch. It was a gift from pitchers Matt Manning, Foley and Lange in appreciation for his work catching their combined no-hitter on July 8 against the Blue Jays. “It’s kind of a tradition,” Haase said. “It’s cool to be a part of it and to keep it going.” It’s his second such watch. He got one for catching Spencer Turnbull’s no-hitter in 2021.

… Reliever Will Vest (lower-leg strain) is expected to throw to hitters for the first time in a live bullpen session later this week. He’s been rehabbing in Lakeland.

… The Tigers’ starting pitchers went into the game Tuesday with the lowest ERA in baseball since July 8. Buoyed by some strong outings from Rodriguez, Lorenzen, Tarik Skubal and Alex Faedo, they combined for a 2.47 ERA. They also posted the lowest WHIP (0.94), FIP (2.94) and opponent batting average (.180) over that stretch.

Angels at Tigers

First pitch: 6:40 p.m. Wednesday, Comerica Park

TV/radio: Bally Sports Detroit / 97.1

TV/Radio: Bally Sports Detroit, 97.1.

Scouting report:

LHP Patrick Sandoval (5-7, 4.16), Angels: His elite changeup is going to be a challenge for Tigers hitters. He’s holding opponents to a .181 batting average with a 41.5% whiff rate with it. He’s made two strong starts this month, limiting the Padres and Yankees to one earned each, covering 12.1 innings.

RHP Michael Lorenzen (5-6, 3.49), Tigers: Since giving up five runs on five singles in the second inning in Denver, he’s been on a run of 21.2 straight scoreless innings. He’s 3-0 in July, holding hitters to a .136 average. In that stretch, he’s lowered his ERA from 4.28 to 3.49. Nice time to be facing his former teammates.

Twitter: @cmccosky

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