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Gardenhire wants outfielders to stay alert

Candelario (left wrist tendinitis) headed on rehab assignment
May 22, 2018

MINNEAPOLIS -- Ron Gardenhire didn't have to give Leonys Martin any lecture about the hazards of letting his guard down after catching a fly ball with a runner on third base Monday."He's taking a lot of crap in the clubhouse], I can tell you that right now," Gardenhire said. "But

MINNEAPOLIS -- Ron Gardenhire didn't have to give Leonys Martin any lecture about the hazards of letting his guard down after catching a fly ball with a runner on third base Monday.
"He's taking a lot of crap in [the clubhouse], I can tell you that right now," Gardenhire said. "But he embarrassed himself, so that should be enough, wouldn't you think? He embarrassed himself. He knows he got abused there, and it's all about dropping your hands."
Gardenhire credited Eddie Rosario for "a great baserunning play" to hesitate on Robbie Grossman's fly ball, sense Martin drop his guard and break for home, forcing Martin into a hurried, inaccurate throw for an insurance run in the eighth inning of Monday's 4-2 loss to the Twins.
Yet as much grief as Martin might have taken from teammates, he's far from the only Tiger whom Gardenhire has yelled at from the dugout to get the ball back into the infield before a runner decides to take off. It's not just for outfielders, Gardenhire said, but cutoff men as well.
"I can't tell you how many I've yelled to throw the ball in," Gardenhire said, "just because of situations like that. I've seen it with us too many times already, where we catch the ball and we start running it in. Throw the ball in. …
"I want these guys to understand that. We got abused last night, and that should be an eye-opener for them all. I promise you I've yelled at least 10 times this year, maybe 12, to throw the ball. All you have to do is get it in, and the third-base coach has to [hold the runner]. But if we keep catching these balls, running and jogging and lobbing them in, it's going to happen more often. We have to do a better job."

Tigers outfielders have mixed numbers holding baserunners on fly balls, according to metrics on baseball-reference. They've done a decent job of discouraging runners from trying to score from first base on a double, including five runners held in 11 opportunities on doubles to right, and four holds in five chances to left. While their primary outfielders have a hold percentage better than league average at all three outfield spots, their team rates are below the league average at all three.
The metrics were not kind to Martin on Monday. According to Statcast™, the 224-foot sacrifice fly was the shallowest sac fly hit in the Majors to any outfield position this season. It's the shallowest sac fly hit to an outfielder in fair territory since last June 6, when Rajai Davis scored from third on a 224-foot fly ball to then-Jays right fielder Jose Bautista.

Candelario headed on rehab assignment
Third baseman Jeimer Candelario will spend the next two or three days on a rehab assignment with Triple-A Toledo before likely returning at some point this weekend against the White Sox.
Candelario, on the 10-day disabled list since May 13 with tendinitis in his left wrist, took ground balls at third base as well as early batting practice Tuesday, swinging from both sides of the plate. At this point, Candelario said, the wrist -- which has flared up from time to time since his days as a Cubs prospect -- doesn't bother him at all.
Gardenhire said the Tigers would like Candelario to get 12 at-bats on rehab before activating him, though they could shorten that depending on how Candelario looks and feels. He'll join the Mud Hens in Columbus for games Wednesday and Thursday, then join the team in Detroit on Friday before the Tigers decide whether to send him back to Toledo for the Hens' home game Friday night.

Cabrera rakes in batting practice
Candelario wasn't the only injured Tiger swinging in early batting practice. Jose Cabrera, on the 10-day DL with a strained right hamstring, was hitting balls out to all fields in the same session, including some opposite-field lofts into the right-field porch at Target Field.
"He started hitting them in the seats in right field, and I told him, 'That's what I remember,'" Gardenhire said, referring to his days as Twins manager. "That's a sign that he's really staying through the ball and he's driving it. He had a more aggressive swing. I thought he was cutting them off in Seattle, not really going all the way through it. I think he's feeling better."
Cabrera still must pass running and agility drills before he can think about a return.
"He knows what he has to do," Gardenhire said. "The trainers have talked to him, still have to get him on the bases. But I think that's a big step, taking swings and really swinging through it."
Quick hits
• The Tigers, searching for lefty relief depth, signed former Astro Kevin Chapman to a Minor League contract. The 30-year-old Chapman, who pitched in 58 games for Houston from 2013-16 before spending last year in Triple-A with the Braves and Twins, opened this season with 6 1/3 scoreless innings and 11 strikeouts for the New Britain Bees of the independent Atlantic League. He'll join the bullpen in Toledo.
• The Tigers have released lefty reliever Jairo Labourt, who was pitching in extended spring training. It's the second time this year the Tigers have cut ties with Labourt, who was designated for assignment in March after command issues.

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.