June 13, 2014 at 1:00 am

Bryan Holaday making strong contributions at the plate, behind the plate for Tigers

Detroit — As excited as Max Scherzer was about his complete game shutout Thursday against the White Sox, there may have been someone equally excited.

The guy squatting in front of him all evening, catcher Bryan Holaday.

And he still was quite giddy about it almost 24 hours later.

“It was amazing, awesome,” said Holaday, who contributed offensively with a career-high three hits. “Just a great experience, and a great game in general. It was a lot of fun to be part of a game like that.”

Especially for someone who plays infrequently — Alex Avila was back in the starting lineup Friday against the Twins — but certainly is making a case for a little more playing time, hitting .304 (17-for-56) with nine runs scored and seven RBIs his last 19 games.

Holaday replaced Avila behind the plate in the eighth inning Friday and flied out to end the game.

“He’s banging at the plate,” Scherzer said. “He’s picking up some really big RBIs.”

But it’s the defensive side Holaday was eager to discuss, specifically, working with Scherzer.

Holaday said he could tell early Scherzer had his stuff against the White Sox.

“You really could,” Holaday said. “Right out of the gate he had a real good fastball. Three up and three down in the first inning, and real good command. The ball was coming out of his hand real well.”

It’s never easy being a rookie catcher, particularly handling a veteran and talented staff.

But, Holaday has handled the task extremely well.

“He’s doing a great job,” Scherzer said. “It’s hard for rookie catchers getting accustomed to the league, and learning the sequence of games, and balance all the reports and what we do, then doing stuff at the plate.

“There’s a lot on his plate. But he’s handling it in stride.”

What’s impressed Scherzer is Holaday’s preparation and attention to detail.

“He’s really prepared when we have a meeting and we go over hitters,” Scherzer said. “He’s very in tune talking between starts, asking questions about what we’re going to do. He’s doing a lot of what we should be looking for, and getting the sequence (of pitches).

“Me, specifically, it’s easy to trust him. There are situations I might dictate before he puts down fingers I know I’ll throw a certain pitch (in a certain situation), but because of his preparation, I’ll throw what he calls and that takes a lot of trust for a pitcher.”

Still, not playing every day, Holaday has to stay sharp the best way he can.

“I have my routine and I go through it and make sure I’m ready to go,” he said. “That makes my mind right and gets me physically ready.

“Any time I’m going to get out there, I’m real happy and excited. I’m just happy to help the team.”

Holaday actually was going to keep the baseball from Thursday’s game.

But he found out from Avila it was Scherzer’s first complete game.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Holaday said. “It was kind of funny. ... I gave it to him (Scherzer). He just put it in his glove. He was real jacked up about the situation.”


Bryan Holaday is hitting .304 in his last 19 games. / Elizabeth Conley / Detroit News