The Tigers have recalled second baseman Kody Clemens from Triple-A Toledo and placed outfielder Robbie Grossman on the 10-day IL with a neck strain, the team announced today. It’ll be the first taste of the big leagues for Clemens, the 26-year-old youngest son of long-dominant (and controversial) ace Roger Clemens.
Though the younger Clemens is primarily known for his bloodlines, he does come with at least a bit of prospect pedigree of his own, and the Tigers thought enough of him to place him on the 40-man roster in November to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft. A third-round pick by the Tigers in the 2018 amateur draft after posting a 1.170 OPS in his junior season, the University of Texas product commanded a $600K bonus and a promotion to Double-A Erie by the end of his first full professional season. His career minor league numbers (.252/.320/.444) are hardly eye-popping, but he has the positional versatility to contribute around the diamond and is off to a strong start (.283/.316/.527 with 8 home runs in 197 plate appearances) at Triple-A Toledo.
The same can’t be said for Grossman’s start to 2022, which has seen him struggle to a .199/.311/.241 triple-slash behind an elevated strikeout rate (30.5% in 2022, 21.8% for his career) and a sudden loss of power; after logging 23 homers last year and 12 in only 51 games in 2020, Grossman hasn’t yet gone deep 167 trips to the plate in 2022. He exited yesterday’s game after popping out in his first at-bat of what became a 2-1 win over the Guardians.
Whether the move is as much to give Grossman a bit of time away from his struggles as to recuperate an injury is unclear, but it does help manager AJ Hinch avoid entering Tuesday’s doubleheader against the Twins short-handed. Still, even with Clemens’ promotion, between Grossman’s injury, Austin Meadows’ continued vertigo-related absence, and Akil Baddoo’s recent demotion, Hinch is left with only two players (Daz Cameron and Derek Hill) on his active roster listed as outfielders, though utility-man Willi Castro has primarily played left field since Baddoo’s demotion and Harold Castro has major-league experience at all three outfield spots.
Primarily a second baseman, Clemens also has limited experience in the outfield, logging 167 minor-league innings between left and right. In the short term, that might be his quickest path to big-league playing time, though he could put pressure on Jonathan Schoop’s hold on the second base job should he prove productive. The 30-year-old Schoop, who’s consistently posted batting lines in the vicinity of his career .258/.297/.441 mark, has joined many of his Tigers teammates in getting off to a slow start to 2022, posting a mark of only a .173/.218/.286 through his first 179 trips to the plate.