KANSAS CITY -- The Tigers placed shortstop Javier Báez on the 10-day injured list Saturday afternoon with right thumb soreness, adding to Detroit’s growing injury woes just over a week into the season. The move was backdated to April 13.
No corresponding move was announced Saturday, but infielder/outfielder Willi Castro was swiftly removed from the Triple-A Toledo lineup for the Mud Hens’ game Saturday at Iowa, just a few hours’ drive from Kansas City.
Báez, signed to a six-year, $140 million contract last November, has already had a major impact on the Tigers’ season with a pair of go-ahead hits. Ironically, it was in the celebration of his walk-off single on Opening Day against the White Sox that Báez said he originally injured his thumb, which he aggravated on a swing a few days later. The 29-year-old is batting .316 (6-for-19) with a home run and four RBIs.
What was originally a day-to-day injury continued to linger for most of the week. The Tigers were planning to sit Báez through the weekend series against the Royals and re-evaluate him ahead of Tuesday’s series opener against the Yankees at Comerica Park before considering a roster move. That decision abruptly changed.
“The timing was really what it was,” manager A.J. Hinch said after Saturday’s 3-1 loss to the Royals. “You can only go back three days, so to [backdate the move] to Wednesday to allow him to potentially come back next Saturday, we needed to make the decision today. We could’ve done it tomorrow, but then he couldn’t come back until Sunday. Timingwise, the faster we did it, the faster we can get him back, if it’s as short term as we think.”
The Tigers have been filling his spot at shortstop with versatile infielder Harold Castro, who could continue in that role. However, the left-handed hitter is much more effective against right-handed pitching than he is against lefties.
Báez is the second Tiger to land on the injured list in less than 24 hours. Detroit placed right-hander Casey Mize on the 10-day IL on Friday with a right elbow sprain. Fellow starter Matt Manning left his start Saturday after just two innings with right shoulder discomfort, but the Tigers are awaiting further evaluation before deciding his next step.