DETROIT -- Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire was candid on Sunday morning before the series finale against the Indians at Comerica Park. He was asked about what the remainder of this season has in store for a team that is in the first year of a rebuild.One of the first things
DETROIT -- Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire was candid on Sunday morning before the series finale against the Indians at Comerica Park. He was asked about what the remainder of this season has in store for a team that is in the first year of a rebuild.
One of the first things Gardenhire mentioned was the work Jeimer Candelario is doing at third base.
"We're talking about improvements with Candy at third base," Gardenhire said. "First-step improvement. We're showing him some film on how he stands straight up to go after balls. It's all the little things like that."
Candelario was one of five infield prospects acquired by the Tigers in July trades last season after playing in 16 games for the Cubs over two seasons. Now in his first season as an everyday player, Candelario entered Sunday hitting .228 with 14 home runs and 39 RBIs. His 76 putouts from the hot corner ranked No. 2 among third basemen.
"I'm one of those players that wants to learn all the time," said Candelario, who was given a day off on Sunday. "We just work all the time defensively, how to get to the ball quicker, how to be ready all the time."
Candelario said he's also been working on getting a better rhythm when fielding balls and being quicker with his transfers and throws.
In addition to Candelario, Gardenhire spoke about utility player Niko Goodrum, who signed with the club as a free agent in the offseason. Goodrum has played six positions for the Tigers this season, but he has recently found a somewhat permanent home at second.
"He's got a lot of things to work on," Gardenhire said. "Right now, that's a good place for him. He's learning to turn the double play. He's doing fine swinging. The big thing with Niko is he can play everywhere. I can put him in the outfield, I can put him all over. That's really important."
When Major League rosters expand in September, teams like the Tigers will get a chance to see future installments who otherwise would still be playing Minor League ball. Gardenhire said he's opposed to bringing up players just for the sake of it, instead preferring players who will be able to contribute in some way and gain valuable experience.
"There are some players that we definitely want to see and get a good look at in September," Gardenhire said.
One of those players could be Christin Stewart, an exciting outfielder ranked as the club's No. 6 prospect by MLB Pipeline, who has spent most of this season with Triple-A Toledo, where he's batting .252 with 17 home runs. But Gardenhire hinted that September callups would involve pitching to give the staff some depth. The organization currently has arms with Major League experience at Toledo with Artie Lewicki, Zac Reininger and Warwick Saupold.
Tyler Fenwick is a reporter for MLB.com based in Detroit.