Notes: Tigers surprise players; Garcia's role

August 26th, 2020

The Tigers had a surprise for their players as they took the field for batting practice before Tuesday’s win over the Cubs. The club put together a video collection of players’ families wishing them well.

The video included ’s wife Ashley, daughter Meira and son Isaiah; ’s daughters Rosangel and Isabella and son Christopher; ’s wife Limayri Johannes, daughter Jae’Lyane Isabelle and son Jae’Lan Elijah; even manager Ron Gardenhire’s grandchildren checked in.

The Tigers are playing through this season with their families watching from afar. They can’t be at the ballpark, and many are at their offseason homes rather than in Michigan. For players, it means a season of long-distance relationships and parenting while they stay relatively isolated between their local residences and the ballpark out of an abundance of caution amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“That’s a thing the Tigers did here. The PR department and some other groups got involved,” Gardenhire said. “Obviously they made a great effort to go out and talk to wives on Zoom, I’m guessing, and put that together. It was wonderful. All of our guys really, really enjoyed that. I enjoyed it. I thought it was fantastic. That’s just a great effort by the Detroit Tigers to do something like that for our ballclub.”

Garcia growing into key role
tried to talk Gardenhire into giving him one more batter as the manager walked to the mound and asked for the ball with two outs in the sixth inning and a 2-0 lead Tuesday.

“When I went out there, I said, ‘That’s a nice job, son. You threw the heck out of the ball,’” Gardenhire said. “He said, ‘I can get one more guy. I’ve got enough for one more man.’ And I said, ‘You just had your one more man.’ …

“He probably could’ve gotten one more hitter out, but we had [] and we liked that matchup really well.”

That says a lot about Garcia’s progression. So did the three-pitch strikeout that followed, with Garcia sending down Victor Caratini on a sinker.

Gardenhire has used Garcia in key situations at other times this season, but this was tighter. The Cubs had a runner on second base, and Caratini represented the potential tying run. If Garcia didn’t retire Caratini, he would have to face David Bote, who went 3-for-5 with a home run and four RBIs the previous night.

Not a bad result for Garcia, a September callup last season who is earning trust among Gardenhire’s many bullpen options. In the process, he’s beginning the progression many foresaw from him when the Tigers drafted the University of Miami closer in 2016.

“You have to have that attitude, whether you’re closing in college or wherever,” Gardenhire said. “You have to have good stuff to be put in that situation in the first place, but you have to be able to handle some failure and you have to know how to succeed. You have to know how to make pitches, and he does. He’s been through a lot with the [Tommy John surgery in 2018] and he’s bounced back.

“Last year was a lot of really being careful with him, and we’re still being careful with him now. Getting up, getting down, sending him back out for a second inning, we’re not real comfortable with that.”

That makes Garcia ideal for situations like Tuesday. So does his sinker and slider mix. So far, the 25-year-old right-hander has allowed three earned runs on 10 hits over 11 1/3 innings with four walks and six strikeouts.

Quick hits
was not in Wednesday’s lineup after leaving Tuesday’s game with right calf soreness, but Gardenhire characterized it as a day off. “Just a little sore,” Gardenhire said. “We talked about it. You go out there and run around, and then all of a sudden you do something to your calf, you'll be done.”

• Gardenhire also said outfielder is moving without restriction. He returned to the lineup Tuesday after missing four games with right hamstring soreness and seemed to be moving carefully, but that was a product of the time off.