Farmer's cleats spread message of Hope

August 24th, 2019

MINNEAPOLIS – The pants, jerseys and caps are all black for the Tigers on Players’ Weekend. The footwear, by contrast, is quite bright.

For Tigers reliever , the cleats are especially bright, thanks to an effort from a good friend.

While Farmer went with his actual first name, George, on the back of his jersey, he let a young fan create a design for the cleats he’ll wear this weekend through a contest on Instagram. The pink, blue and green scheme came from a young girl named Hope to raise awareness for Wish Upon a Teen, a program based in suburban Detroit that provides resources and opportunities for teenagers battling terminal or life-altering medical conditions.

“My wife knows Hope, as well as her mom. They’re both huge Tigers fans,” Farmer said. “They come to games a lot.”

The Farmers have been involved with the program for a few years, helping kids who are facing lengthy hospitalizations feel more at home. The work ranges from helping decorate a room in a more familiar theme to organizing events, such as a prom night for kids at a local theater.

Once Hope came up with the winning design, Farmer sent it to his design team, who turned it into a pair of cleats.

“It was a no-brainer,” Farmer said. “This is incredible.”

Candelario optioned to Triple-A Toledo

For the second time in as many days, the Tigers activated a member of their Opening Day lineup from the injured list and optioned him to Triple-A Toledo. Much like with a day earlier, is headed to the Mud Hens to continue getting regular at-bats and work before rosters expand in September.

“He’s coming off a hand injury, sat out a while and is still working his way through that,” manager Ron Gardenhire said Friday.

Candelario was out since Aug. 5 with a left thumb sprain. He went 7-for-25 during a seven-game rehab assignment in Toledo, drawing five walks and four strikeouts, but all of the hits came in his final three games.

If the Tigers needed Candelario in the lineup, he likely would’ve been ready. But by waiting until September to bring him back, the Tigers can continue giving everyday at-bats to , who came within feet of a game-tying home run on Thursday in Houston.

Though Lugo entered Friday’s series opener against the Twins just 2-for-29 on the road trip, his defense has made a major improvement since his first look in May and June.

“We like what Lugo’s doing,” said Gardenhire, who credited coaches Ramon Santiago and Joe Vavra for working with him on ranging for ground balls. “That improvement at third base is probably as much as I’ve seen from a player in a long, long time; how much he has improved since he got back up here.”

Hicks helping out

While rookie catcher continues to get adjusted to the extra duties he faces behind the plate in the big leagues, gave him an assist Thursday. Hicks told Rogers from the dugout to change up his signs with reliever Nick Ramirez while Alex Bregman and Yordan Alvarez were on base.

"We were watching, and when Bregman got to third base, he was trying to get the [Alvarez’s] attention at second base, like, 'Hey, they are doing this,'” Hicks said. “I saw that, I was watching that, and I just tried to get Jake's attention and let him know. …

"Obviously we want to prevent that as much as possible. So if we can pick up anything that they may be doing, we want to make changes as quickly as possible."

Quick hits

• Left-hander rejoined the team from paternity leave on Friday, and will start Sunday’s series finale at Target Field.

• Right-hander Paul Richan, part of the Tigers’ return package from the Cubs in the Nicholas Castellanos trade, tossed eight scoreless innings on six hits with seven strikeouts for Class A Advanced Lakeland on Thursday night. Richan, the 19th-ranked prospect in the Tigers' system according to MLB Pipeline, improved to 2-1 with a 3.65 ERA in four starts for the Flying Tigers, striking out 24 batters over 24 2/3 innings against just two walks and two home runs.

• Double-A Erie right-hander Matt Manning, outfielder Jose Azocar and infielder Isaac Paredes were named to the Eastern League season-ending All-Star team, as voted on by league managers and media members.