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Gardenhire thrilled by Goodrum's development

Manager saw 2B as prospect in Twins' system, but 2018 'is the best baseball I've seen him play'
MLB.com

CHICAGO -- Manager Ron Gardenhire didn't expect the performance the Tigers have been getting from second baseman Niko Goodrum, who has emerged as a consistent force in the lineup.

"We planned on using him all over the place," Gardenhire said before Wednesday's game against the Cubs. "But through other people's struggles, this guy comes in and he's playing like a gangbuster."

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CHICAGO -- Manager Ron Gardenhire didn't expect the performance the Tigers have been getting from second baseman Niko Goodrum, who has emerged as a consistent force in the lineup.

"We planned on using him all over the place," Gardenhire said before Wednesday's game against the Cubs. "But through other people's struggles, this guy comes in and he's playing like a gangbuster."

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Goodrum entered Wednesday batting .236/.314/.438, but his presence in the young Detroit lineup cannot be overlooked, especially with the absence of Miguel Cabrera, who is out for the season after undergoing left biceps surgery last month. More than half of Goodrum's 48 hits this season have gone for extra bases.

Gardenhire can't exactly say Goodrum came out of nowhere. He saw the 26-year-old come up through the Twins' organization, which selected Goodrum in the second round of the 2010 MLB Draft. Gardenhire managed the Twins from 2002-2014, but this Goodrum isn't the same force as the raw Minor Leaguer he once saw in Spring Training.

"This is the best baseball I've seen him play," Gardenhire said. "That was one of his issues coming up through the system [in Minnesota]. He just wasn't a consistent baseball player. He's pretty fun to watch. He's got a big swing. The ball makes a loud sound off his bat."

Video: CLE@DET: Goodrum has big two-homer, five-RBI game

More than anything, though, Gardenhire was blown away by Goodrum's speed, which he made about 10 different references to in the visiting manager's office at Wrigley Field before the game. 

"He can absolutely fly," Gardenhire said. "His strides are unbelievable. I think I underestimated how really fast this guy can run."

According to Statcast™, Goodrum's average sprint speed of 29 feet/second is the third highest on the Tigers, behind only Victor Reyes and JaCoby Jones.

"A lot of good tools, this young man has," Gardenhire said. "We've always known that. Sometimes it takes a little while to actually show it at the big league level. He's getting an opportunity, and he's taking advantage of it. That's kinda the stuff you like."

Matthew Martell is a reporter for MLB.com based in Chicago.

Detroit Tigers, Niko Goodrum