Javier Báez wasn’t initially in the Detroit Tigers‘ starting lineup for Tuesday’s game against the Minnesota Twins, but less than three hours before the 6:40 p.m. first pitch, he was added to the lineup as the starting shortstop.
The 30-year-old replaced Zack Short and entered the sixth spot in the batting order.
Báez’s grandfather died recently.
“I talked to Javy this morning,” Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said Tuesday. “I think we have a pretty good plan laid out for us on the baseball side of things. Obviously, everything will be dictated by his family’s needs and his personal mourning, but he’s back in the lineup.”
The Tigers anticipated that Báez, who hasn’t been in the starting lineup since Friday, would be placed on the bereavement list Tuesday and travel to Puerto Rico to be with his family for funeral services.
If that plan happened, the Tigers likely would have called up 27-year-old infielder Isan Díaz — a left-handed hitter claimed off waivers from the San Francisco Giants on Monday — to replace Báez on the roster during his absence. On the bereavement list, a player must miss a minimum of three games and can miss up to seven games.
Instead, Báez is expected to stay with the Tigers throughout the week, and possibly throughout the weekend, before the Tigers place him on the bereavement list.
“Javy is going to be here for the better part of this week, maybe even into the weekend,” Hinch said. “They’ve made arrangements for next week sometime in Puerto Rico. We had dual plans for how we were going to react based on Javy’s family needs.”
There’s a chance Báez will play in the next six games: three against the Twins at Comerica Park (Tuesday-Thursday) and three against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park (Friday-Sunday).
The Tigers have an off day scheduled for Monday.
Báez is hitting .223 with seven home runs, 17 walks and 94 strikeouts in 105 games this season. He has a .262 on-base percentage, a .325 slugging percentage and a .587 on-base-plus-slugging percentage.
“He’s been emotional,” Hinch said. “If you guys follow him, he’s posted a lot of personal things (on social media). He’s very close to his grandfather, and he’s had a couple of rough days. I think anybody who has lost a loved one can relate. He’s told some stories about his grandpa, and he’s shared some pictures and things like that. But it’s been a rough go.”
Right-hander Alex Faedo will start Wednesday for the Tigers against the Twins. Left-hander Joey Wentz, who surrendered eight runs across three innings in Monday’s 9-3 loss, was optioned to Triple-A Toledo.
The 27-year-old has a 5.80 ERA with eight walks and 30 strikeouts over 35⅔ innings in seven starts with the Tigers this season, plus a 3.42 ERA in seven starts with Triple-A Toledo and a 5.06 ERA in one start with Double-A Erie.
Faedo pitched for Double-A Erie on Aug. 2 against the Harrisburg Senators (an affiliate of the Washington Nationals), allowing three runs on six hits and one walk with eight strikeouts over 5⅓ innings. He threw 61 of 95 pitches for strikes.
“A lot of travel to throw in a 12:30 (p.m.) game wasn’t the most fun,” Faedo said Tuesday. “But I was happy I got out on the mound and got to throw a good six ups again, which was great for me.”
The only reason Faedo started for the SeaWolves — instead of the Mud Hens or Tigers — was because of the Aug. 1 trade deadline. The Tigers had Faedo stationed in Pittsburgh and expected him to start Aug. 2 against the Pirates, replacing left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez in the starting rotation.
But the Tigers never traded Rodriguez.
Faedo traveled to from Pittsburgh to Erie, roughly 130 miles apart, to start for the SeaWolves after the Rodriguez trade to the Los Angeles Dodgers fell through because Rodriguez — who has an opt-out clause in his five-year, $77 million contract after this season — invoked his 10-team no-trade clause.
“That’s just so much out of my control,” Faedo said. “I just got to do what the bosses say. When you’re working for the team, if they need you in a certain spot, that’s where you go, and then if things don’t happen, you pivot and adjust from there.”
Now, Faedo is officially back with the Tigers.
“Whenever I’m told to throw, I go,” Faedo said.
Two players released
Knapp, a 31-year-old switch-hitter, posted a .253 batting average with six home runs, 27 walks and 67 strikeouts over 70 games with the Mud Hens. He had a .734 on-base-plus-slugging percentage.
A few days ago, the Tigers released High-A West Michigan first baseman Dillon Paulson. The Tigers, at the beginning of this season, acquired Witherspoon (on March 29) and Paulson (on March 31) from the Tampa Bay Rays in separate trades for cash considerations.