The Tigers made the somewhat surprising move to option left fielder Mikie Mahtook to Triple-A Toledo following last night’s game, per a club announcement. Mahtook, a former first-rounder on whom the Tigers bought low late in the 2016-17 offseason, turned in a solid 2017 campaign in Detroit and opened the year as the Tigers’ primary left fielder. However, the 28-year-old got off to a brutal .129/.200/.161 start to the year through his first 35 plate appearances, prompting a move to be made. Manager Ron Gardenhire told reporters after the game that it was a “tough night” for the organization and called delivering this type of news the “worst part of being a manager” (link via MLive.com’s Evan Woodbery). “Tough decision. Not fun at all,” said Gardenhire. “I really like Mikie. He’s kind of scuffling a little bit. I told him he needs to go down and get his swing together and get his confidence back and he’ll be right back up here.” Mahtook, who hit .276/.330/.457 last season, took the demotion in stride, voicing confidence that he can turn things around in Toledo and return in the near future.
More out of the Motor City…
- Wednesday was a frightening day for right-hander Jordan Zimmermann, who exited his start after being struck in the face by a line-drive off the bat of Jason Kipnis. Remarkably, however, it seems as though Zimmermann not only avoided major injury but will be able to make his next start, as MLB.com’s Jason Beck writes. Statcast measured the exit velocity of the comebacker that hit Zimmermann at a blistering 105.6 mph, but Zimmermann passed MLB’s concussion protocols, and X-rays came back negative. Zimmermann noted that it wasn’t the first time he’s endured that type of injury, as a comebacker in college broke his jaw. Beck’s column has quotes from Zimmermann, Gardenhire and Kipnis on the incident.
- The Tigers will face a pivotal decision in their rebuilding effort this June when they have the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 draft. Per Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs (all Twitter links), Auburn right-hander Casey Mize is favored to come off the board first overall at the moment, but the Tigers are also looking at Jarred Kelenic — a high school outfielder out of Waukesha, Wis., as a possibility with the top pick. The interest in Kelenic, McDaniel adds, isn’t a smokescreen designed to lower the price on other players and seems to be quite legitimate. Kelenic saw the Tigers’ Spring Training facility back in early March, and McDaniel notes that he’s been hearing talk about the two sides since that time, though those rumors have increased recently.