Rookie shortstop Suarez says he's ready to help Tigers
DETROIT -- Give this to the Tigers: With so many veteran players in the dugout, they know how to give a hot-shot rookie a good silent treatment after a big home run.
"Everybody down in the dugout said nothing," Eugenio Suarez said of his triumphant trip back into the dugout after his first Major League home run Saturday night. "After I put my towel in my locker, everybody said, 'Hey, man, congratulations.'"
It was not coordinated, Torii Hunter said, but it was pulled off pretty well. Not even manager Brad Ausmus or the coaches acknowledged him on his way in.
"It wasn't well-orchestrated," Hunter said with a laugh later, joking around with J.D. Martinez, "because [Miguel Cabrera] was pumped up: 'That's my boy! That's my boy!' Miggy was funny. It was pretty cool."
Once Cabrera, the fellow Venezuelan, broke the ice, the rest of the dugout swarmed in.
"Miggy gave me a hug, Torii gave me a hug, said, 'Congratulations, man, welcome to big leagues,'" Suarez said.
It'll forever be a memory from a first Major League start that Suarez had to wait a few days to get thanks to a sore left knee. With more performances like Saturday, Suarez will be welcome for a while.
When Tigers president/general manager Dave Dombrowski made the trip to Triple-A Toledo to watch Suarez two weeks ago, Suarez put on a hitting display that included a no-doubt home run that cleared everything in left at Fifth Third Field and hit the street outside the park. Suarez's home run Saturday looked a lot like that, a pulled shot for power to punish a left-hander for a fastball over the plate. It was a Jon Lester's cutter that didn't cut much, and Suarez was waiting for it.
"He threw me two cutters in a row," Suarez said. "In the first at-bat, he threw me a cutter, same cutter. In the second at-bat, at 3-2, he threw me a cutter, foul. He threw me a cutter again. That's a good pitch, but I was ready for that pitch. Hit it good, so it's a homer."
Two line drives into left field off John Lackey accounted for bigger runs Sunday. The first scored Austin Jackson in the third inning to open the Tigers' scoring, tying the game after Dustin Pedroia's sacrifice fly in the top half.
The second one came four innings later with the game tied once again, and it made fellow rookie infield Xander Bogaerts pay for an error on a potentially double-play grounder that instead left two runners on with nobody out.
That made Suarez just the 13th Tiger since 1914 to record an RBI in each of his first two starts in the big leagues. The previous, ironically, was Danny Worth, who Suarez replaced. He did it in 2010.
Suarez has enough offense that Ausmus let him swing away with runners on first and second and nobody out his first time up Saturday. With a weaker-hitting shortstop, it might have been a bunt situation, but Ausmus played for the big inning.
"We're not playing for one or two runs," Ausmus said. "We'd like to play for four or five. Generally, the big innings win you a game."
Suarez gives a little more capability to play for the big inning. The key to whether he becomes more than a midseason placeholder for the Tigers at shortstop ahead of next month's Trade Deadline will be whether he can mix some key hits with solid defense, something that wavered at the spot for the Tigers in recent weeks before they decided to give Suarez a shot.
Suarez wants the chance.
"I feel very good," Suarez said. "I feel ready to help the team, defense, offense. If they give me a chance, I think I'm going to work hard every day, helping the team. I feel, right now, that I'm ready to help the team."