Tigers’ Candelario excited by call-up, locker neighbor

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News
Jeimer Candelario, a third baseman acquired from the Cubs in the Justin Wilson-Alex Avila trade last week, was called up Sunday night to fill in while shortstop Jose Iglesias is on bereavement leave after a death in his family.

Pittsburgh — When he got to the clubhouse Monday, newest Tiger Jeimer Candelario quickly texted one of his oldest friends.

“I’m here with Detroit,” he texted. “I’m right next to Miggy.”

Candelario’s old friend is a guy named Robinson Cano — you might be familiar with his work. He's an eight-time All-Star.

“His dad and my dad grew up together in the same town (in the Dominican Republic),” Candelario explained. “We kind of grew up together; he’s like a brother.”

Candelario, a third baseman acquired from the Cubs in the Justin Wilson-Alex Avila trade last week, was called up Sunday night to fill in while shortstop Jose Iglesias is on bereavement leave after a death in his family.

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He was not in the starting lineup Monday and there are no immediate plans to give starting third baseman Nick Castellanos a day off.

“We can use (Candelario) off the bench; he’s a switch-hitter so he gives us some flexibility,” manager Brad Ausmus said. “I don’t know how long Iggy will be gone. Bereavement leave is three to seven days.

“So we’re not sure how much he will play or if he will play. Just wait and see.”

The prospect of limited playing time didn’t seem to dampen Candelario’s excitement. Though it was hard to tell which was more exciting to him, getting the call-up or having his locker right next to Miguel Cabrera.

“I talked to Miggy,” he said. “He welcomed me here. Everybody has. I’ve always followed him growing up. He’s a great hitter.”

Candelario hadn’t yet heard back from Cano, but the two talk regularly. Their relationship goes back to when Candelario was 9 years old and his father took him to Cano’s baseball academy in the Dominican.

“I practice over there in the offseason,” Candelario said. “When he was in Triple-A I started practicing with him, but I was only 9 years old. I learned a lot about his swing and about hitting left-handed.

“I am a switch-hitter and I worked hard with him over there. It is great to have him around all the time. … He’s a guy you want to learn from.”

It’s been a whirlwind for him since the trade. He was on the road with the Cubs’ Iowa City Triple A affiliate when the trade broke. He had to get back to Iowa City, collect his belongings and drive to Toledo.

Toledo manager Mike Rojas gave him the news Sunday night in Columbus that he was going up. So, he rented a car and drove to Pittsburgh.

“It’s been difficult,” he said. “But I will take it. It’s good. It’s the Show.”

Twitter.com: @cmccosky