Mahtook's maturation on display after mistake

July 26th, 2017

DETROIT -- offered no excuse for his baserunning error late in Tuesday's 3-1 loss to Kansas City. Instead, the oft-energetic Mahtook solemnly owned up to his mistake of being doubled up at first base on a deep fly ball that he initially though was a base hit he could score on.

"Regardless of thinking it [is going to land], you have to check," he said. "That's the cardinal rule, that's the number one rule in getting on base, is paying attention to where your outfielders are."

At his locker on Wednesday, Mahtook was back to his usual, smiling self. He clearly hadn't carried the previous day over with him. It's a sign of growth and, as Detroit manager Brad Ausmus put it, "maturity" in the 27-year-old outfielder

Mahtook, in his third season, senses his own maturation, particularly in how he moves on from day-to-day mistakes. In three years at LSU, the infrequent playing schedule gave him several days off between series to get over any on-field woes. A much busier Major League schedule has made for an adjustment.

"Especially last year," said Mahtook, who batted .195 in 65 games with the Rays in 2016. "It was hard for me to get past it, to kind of forget about [struggles] and move on to the next day. It kind of lingered."

As someone whom Ausmus says "brings good energy" to the clubhouse and the field, Mahtook won't apologize for playing the game hard and sometimes displaying his emotions openly. After his mistake Tuesday, he stayed crouched at first base, with his head down, until all the Royals had trotted off the field.

Mahtook's goal is to be Detroit's everyday center fielder and he's looked the part since June began, entering Wednesday hitting .348 with a .548 slugging percentage in 36 games. He'd started 28 of those games and had at least one hit in 25 of them. In April and May, he started only 13 of 25 games and batted .186.

His increased role has meant a greater opportunity to succeed, which he's seized. But Mahtook knows how much failure is embedded into every game, series and season, which is why he takes an attitude of approaching each day individually.

"It's nice to be able to go out there and, if you have a bad day, to go out there the next day and try to do something to help the team win," he said. "To have a bounce-back game."