DETROIT -- Dixon Machado was among the surprises of the Tigers' lineup early in the season, hanging with the American League leaders in doubles and ranking among the top batters in hard-hit contact. On Saturday, the slumping second baseman was out of Detroit's lineup for a second consecutive game as
DETROIT -- Dixon Machado was among the surprises of the Tigers' lineup early in the season, hanging with the American League leaders in doubles and ranking among the top batters in hard-hit contact. On Saturday, the slumping second baseman was out of Detroit's lineup for a second consecutive game as hitting coach Lloyd McClendon tries to rework Machado's swing.
"He's in a swing change, trying to get the ball out of air, more line drives and ground balls," manager Ron Gardenhire said.
Machado came to Spring Training after an offseason of work in Lakeland, Fla., looking to drive the ball and make more solid contact as he prepared for his first everyday role in the Majors. The approach paid off early with six doubles and seven RBIs in his first seven games. While his average dropped as April wore on, the hard-hit line drives and exit velocity remained strong.
The numbers have dropped in May. Machado has one extra-base hit for the month, a double on May 3 at Kansas City, and more strikeouts (16) than hits (14) for the month. He entered Saturday in an 0-for-15 slump, which has included a fair number of groundouts.
Machado entered Saturday batting .206 with a .281 slugging percentage and .541 OPS. Based on the quality of contact, Statcast™ estimated his batting average should be .264, a 58-point difference that ranks 11th-largest among qualifying Major League hitters. The 71-point difference between what his actual weighted on-base average is (.241) and what it is expected to be (.312) ranks 18th-largest among big league hitters.
Some of that tough luck, Gardenhire suggested, is to be expected playing half the games at Comerica Park.
"There are a lot of big outs in this park," Gardenhire said.
Comerica Park is one reason Gardenhire isn't among the big proponents of the recent trend toward hitters swinging for launch angle and home runs. While it can help hitters with the power for it, with former Tiger J.D. Martinez a big example, it's not for everybody. Others need to put the ball in play and put pressure on the defense.
Gardenhire doesn't believe it's necessarily for Machado. Still, he had a talk with Machado and asked him whether he wanted to go back to a line drive/ground ball approach. After all, Gardenhire said, this is Machado's career, not theirs.
Zimmermann to begin rehab assignment
Jordan Zimmermann, out since May 6 with a right shoulder impingement, will report to Triple-A Toledo on Sunday for what is expected to be a two-start rehab assignment, Gardenhire said.
Zimmermann is expected to throw about 60 pitches for the Mud Hens on Sunday evening against Norfolk at Fifth Third Field, then stretch out his pitch count in another start next weekend. That would put him on track to rejoin the Tigers rotation in early June, either during their three-game series in Boston or their ensuing homestand against the Indians.
Reyes gets a start
Victor Reyes' start in left field Saturday was his first game in the Tigers' lineup since May 6. He had 10 at-bats between starts, and Gardenhire took blame for not finding more playing time for the Rule 5 Draft pick.
"We need to get him more at-bats," Gardenhire said. "I've said that from the get-go, and I haven't really done what I said I was going to do."
Reyes went 1-for-3 at the plate during Detroit's 8-4 loss to Chicago before being lifted for pinch-hitter Leonys Martin. Reyes' second-inning single was his first base hit since May 6, and his first hit all season at Comerica Park. His other three hits came in road games.
• Alex Wilson played catch and fielded bunts off the mound in his rehab from a ruptured plantar fascia in his left foot. The fielding part continues to put stress on his foot, which is why the Tigers have been more patient with his rehab process.
• Jose Cabrera is scheduled to take batting practice and infield work on the field Sunday morning before their series finale against the White Sox as he works his way back from his strained right hamstring. "We're getting closer with him, which is a big part of our lineup," Gardenhire said. "And in the middle of that mess that we've got going on with those big boys, that's pretty fun to have."
Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast.