CINCINNATI -- A day after the Tigers were beaten by the short home run at Great American Ball Park, they're hoping it can help Jeimer Candelario beat the hitting struggles that have plagued him for most of June.The Tigers' young third baseman, nearly benched for Wednesday's 5-3 loss to the
CINCINNATI -- A day after the Tigers were beaten by the short home run at Great American Ball Park, they're hoping it can help Jeimer Candelario beat the hitting struggles that have plagued him for most of June.
The Tigers' young third baseman, nearly benched for Wednesday's 5-3 loss to the Reds amidst a 4-for-36 slump, sent an opposite-field loft just over the left-field fence for a first-inning solo homer. It was a lone tally at a place where runs can pile up in a hurry, but it was big for Candelario. The homer was estimated at 359 feet, and it left his bat at a 28 degree launch angle and with an exit velocity of 93.3 mph, according to Statcast™.
"He's a good hitter," manager Ron Gardenhire said before the game. "I think young hitters sometimes press too much, maybe get a little passive."
The 24-year-old Candelario, part of the return the Tigers received from the Cubs in the Justin Wilson/Alex Avila trade last July, entered June as a sneaky candidate to represent Detroit on the All-Star roster, batting .275 with eight homers, 22 RBIs and an .894 OPS in 44 games. A .167 average in June, with 24 strikeouts and 10 hits, has cooled off that talk and left the Tigers focused on just getting the young hitter going again.
Candelario would've sat Wednesday, Gardenhire said, but he needed to give a day off to John Hicks, the backup catcher who became Detroit's everyday first baseman once Jose Cabrera suffered a season-ending biceps tendon tear last week.
Candelario had gone 10 days without an extra-base hit when he jumped on Tyler Mahle's first-pitch fastball, sending it to the opposite field. Statcast™ gave it a 21 percent hit probability, and it likely would've barely reached the warning track at Comerica Park. But on a hot and humid afternoon in smaller confines, the ball carried enough to find the left-field seats for Candelario's 11th home run of the year.
Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.