detroit tigers President Scott Harris said that the positive way Javier Baez responded to being knocked out of a game last month has helped contribute to the improvement of his team’s play ever since.
Baez, in the second season of a six-year, $140 million contract, was eliminated from a game against toronto blue jays on April 13 by manager AJ Hinch after losing count of how many outs there were and running into a double play.
Since then, the infielder has responded by hitting his first three home runs of the season during a stretch in which he’s hitting .321 and has raised his average to .256. The Tigers are 14-11 in those 25 games after starting the season 3-8.
“My takeaway from the whole bench incident was that AJ did a great job of making a tough decision at a time of high pressure. But he did an even better job sending him off,” Harris. said in an interview with MLB Network On Wednesday. “It wasn’t just about Javy. We wanted to get to a place where we played fair, more competitive baseball in this organization. And that was a real turning point for our season.
“Since then, we’ve been playing a very aggressive brand of baseball, hitting the zone and trying to get better counts on both sides of the ball. And AJ has done a great job picking his spots and setting up the players. “so they come out ahead in moments of high leverage. I think Javy is one of the leaders of the team. He sets the tone for the whole team. And it’s been a lot of fun watching him respond in that moment.”
Harris credited Baez with focusing on the pitches he “can really throw” and setting the tone for the rest of the hitters.
Baez hit .238 with 17 home runs and 67 RBIs in 144 games for the Tigers last season, his first with the franchise. He was taken out of the game against the Blue Jays when he broke for third and rounded the base with a line drive to center field and was easily doubled for the third out. That came after he didn’t run out of the batter’s box, apparently thinking he’d homered off a ball that hit the left-field wall.
Baez said after that game, which the Tigers won 3-1, that he respected Hinch’s decision and recognized that he needed to show respect for baseball.
Entering Thursday’s games, the Tigers (17-19) sit second in the AL Central standings, 2 1/2 games behind first place. minnesota twins.