Detroit — There was no transaction. No press release or press conference.
Just a new nameplate over his locker and another player’s uniform on the rack.
Outfielder Austin Meadows’ season has been effectively over since May 1 when he was placed on the 60-day injured list. It was officially over on Saturday when the Tigers gave newly called-up pitcher Sawyer Gipson-Long his corner locker inside the Tigers’ clubhouse.
“It’s a weird conversation to have about a locker, but it does signal the end of his season,” manager AJ Hinch said.
Hinch has been in constant communication with Meadows, who for the second year in a row left the team to deal with an anxiety disorder. He called him Saturday morning to let him know they were taking his locker down.
“We still have his back and we’re still rooting for him,” Hinch said. “I caught up with him about his family and we talked about Parker. We knew this was going to happen at some point, that he wasn’t going to come back.”
Spring training started with the Meadows brothers showing up together — younger brother Parker, in his first camp, carrying his older brother’s bags into the clubhouse in Lakeland. Both talked about realizing the dream of playing in the same big-league outfield this year.
Instead, Austin Meadows has had to watch and cheer from afar as Parker debuted and began his big-league career.
“He’s paying attention to our games on TV,” Hinch said. “I gave him a couple of behind-the-scenes stories about Parker that are fun, just so as a big brother he knows how his little brother is doing.”
The Tigers acquired Austin Meadows before last season from Tampa Bay, trading third baseman Isaac Paredes to the Rays. Meadows, on the books for $4.3 million this season, is still under team control for 2024 but the Tigers, most likely, will non-tender him.
Still only 28, he played 36 games last season and just six this year.
“He is day-to-day doing his best, which is all you can ask for,” Hinch said. “His voice is good when he talks about his young kid and the growing his family has done. The time he’s had to work on himself and his family is going to benefit him and we have to continue to be supportive of him and others who are going through it.
“Unless you’ve gone through it, we don’t know how it is. So rather than judge him, we need to support him. We will continue to do that as an organization. The family has thanked us for our treatment of Austin and the family and we still have an extension of that family here with us in Parker.”
The Miggy plan
Hinch continues to do his level best to lay out Miguel Cabrera’s playing schedule in advance of each series so fans can come out and see him play in the final days of his Hall of Fame-worthy career. But, as always, that schedule isn’t set in stone and is dependent on, among several factors, Cabrera’s general health.
He was not in the starting lineup Saturday but was expected to be the designated hitter Sunday. After the off day Monday, Hinch said he expects Cabrera to play in two of the three games against the Reds. He will announce which two days when the Reds set their starting rotation.
“I just want to make sure the last few weeks are exactly what he wants,” Hinch said. “He’s grinding right now, both performance-wise and health-wise.”
Since collecting four hits in Chicago last Saturday — a game where he made a hard slide and tore a big patch of skin off his leg — he’s gone 1-for-11 in his last three.
“He’s battling a few things,” Hinch said. “He’s been sick and banged up. But the last person I want to disappoint is Miguel. I want him to feel really good about how this winds down.”
Around the horn
Right-hander Spencer Turnbull was scratched from his scheduled start with the Toledo Mud Hens on Saturday in Indianapolis. It was the second straight start he’s had to miss. He hasn’t thrown much off the mound since he was optioned back to Triple-A because of a cracked nail on the big toe of his left foot, his landing foot.
… Gipson-Long took a long stroll around Comerica Park before the game. He’s technically on the taxi squad and thus off limits to the media. He will be activated Sunday morning ahead of his big-league debut, which will require a corresponding move. Likely one of the bullpen arms will be optioned.
… Hinch on Gipson-Long: “I let him know his best is good enough. The fastball he’s been executing at Triple-A will still play at this level. The sweep on his slider will play at this level. He just has to experience it to truly believe it.”
… Javier Báez was unable to finish the game Friday night. He was hit in the elbow with a fastball from White Sox starter Mike Clevinger. He stayed in the game until the eighth inning when he was lifted for a pinch-hitter.
Hinch said the elbow locked up on him and he couldn’t swing the bat. Saturday was a scheduled off-day for Báez. Hinch expects him to be back in the lineup Sunday.
White Sox at Tigers
▶ First pitch: 1:10 p.m. Sunday, Comerica Park, Detroit
▶ TV/radio: BSD/97.1
▶ RHP Jesse Scholtens (1-7, 4.38), White Sox: The 29-year-old rookie has been roughed up over his last four starts — 16 earned runs in 17⅔ innings, .333 opponent batting average, .551 slugging. He has unhealthy reverse splits. Right-handed hitters do most of the damage against him, hitting .327 with a .947 OPS. All 12 homers against him have been hit by righties. His four-seam (92.7 mph) and slider combo has been far more effective against lefties. He rarely throws a changeup or curveball to righties.
▶ RHP Sawyer Gipson-Long, Tigers: This will be his major league debut. The 25-year-old has completely transformed himself since coming to the Tigers organization last year from the Twins for Michael Fulmer. Adding a cutter to his five-pitch mix has been pivotal. He also features a sweeper, changeup and four-seamer. Between Erie and Toledo this season he’s posted 126 strikeouts in 99⅔ innings.