Minneapolis — Jeimer Candelario hit a ball in early batting practice Tuesday that traveled some 400 feet into the back of the bullpen area in left-center field.
He was batting right-handed, which meant that his ailing left wrist bore the brunt of the torque on that swing. He could not have hit a ball right-handed with that much authority a week ago.
“Everything is good,” said Candelario, who has been on the disabled list since May 13 and has missed his 10th game Tuesday. “I am finishing my swing with two hands strong and hitting the ball really well. I’m excited.”
Candelario will leave the Tigers Wednesday and join Triple-A Toledo in Columbus to start a rehab assignment. He is expected to play two games in Columbus, drive up to Detroit for a luncheon on Friday. There is a chance he could play a third game with the Mud Hens on Friday.
“We will make a decision after listening to the conversation about his swing after those two games,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. “We will probably send him back and get a third day. We’d like him to get 12 at-bats at least and see how he gets through them.
“I think it’s going to be fine. He’s feeling great. But we definitely wanted to get him some rehab time.”
Candelario expects he will be ready to rejoin the Tigers on Friday.
“For sure,” he said. “I will take these two days (in Columbus) and then come back and help the team.”
This was his first stint on the disabled list and, needless to say, he’s not much liked the experience.
“It’s not good for anybody,” he said. “I’m just glad I am back on track.”
There is a chance that the ligament issue in his wrist will bother him all season, to some degree. Presently, after the rest and the treatment, he said he feels no pain at all.
“Right now I don’t feel anything,” he said. “We’ll just see how it goes.”
Leonys Martin didn’t have to be told he made a mistake in the eighth inning Monday night.
Eddie Rosario tagged up on a shallow fly ball to center. He bluffed breaking for home, and Martin dropped his hands and took his eyes off him. Then Rosario broke for home and scored easily, making it a 4-2 game.
“He’s taking a lot of crap, I am telling you right now,” Gardenhire said. “A lot of guys are giving him crap in there. But he embarrassed himself. That should be enough, wouldn’t you think? He knows he got abused there.”
Gardenhire has turned it into a teaching point. He’s been after both the outfielders and the middle infielders on relays, to get the ball in quickly. Too often players are running the ball in.
“It’s all about dropping your hands,” he said. “Good base coaches, we all know, on relays, if a guy catches the ball and has his hands up here (in a ready position), we’ve got to stop the runner. But when a guy catches a ball and stops looking, then you keep him running.
“You see the guy drop his hands and bam — he’s gone.”
Gardenhire said Dave Winfield taught him that. Gardenhire was a third-base coach for the Twins when Winfield played there.
“He ran by me at third base at least three times,” he said. “All because he saw the relay guy drop his hands. You drop your hands and you have no chance.”
Gardenhire said at least 10 times he’s yelled from the dugout at his outfielders and relay guys to throw the ball in. He’s tired of seeing them jog and lob it in.
“I want these guys to understand that — we got abused last night,” he said. “That should be an eye-opener for them all.”
Cabrera swinging it
Miguel Cabrera (hamstring) still has to pass some running tests before he’s activated, but he had his most encouraging batting practice session since returning to baseball activity over the weekend.
He hit a couple of balls into the second deck in left field at Target Field, and he hit a few in the bleachers in right field.
“I told him, ‘That’s what I remember,’” Gardenhire said. “I’ve seen him hit a lot of those out there and I’d be saying, ‘Don’t let Miggy beat us.’ That’s a good sign that he’s really staying through the ball.”
Gardenhire said when Cabrera took batting practice in Seattle on Saturday, he wasn’t driving through his swing. He was mostly just feeling for the ball.
“He had a more aggressive swing today,” Gardenhire said. “I thought he was really letting it go and getting his hips through it. He’d been kind of cutting it off in Seattle…I think this was a big step, taking swings and really swinging through it.”
Around the horn
Both Jordan Zimmermann (shoulder) and Alex Wilson (plantar fasciitis) threw bullpen sessions before the game Tuesday. They threw roughly 40-45 pitches and both came away feeling good about it. Gardenhire said he will meet with pitching coach Chris Bosio and general manager Al Avila to set up rehab assignments for both.
Tigers at Twins
First pitch: 1:10 p.m. Wednesday, Target Field, Minneapolis
TV/radio: FSD/97.1 FM
RHP Kyle Gibson (1-2, 3.96), Twins: He is 6-7 with a 5.59 ERA against the Tigers over his career. The Tigers have hit him at a .278 clip with a .773 OPS. He’s throwing a lot of sinkers (93 mph) and sliders this season. Opponents are hitting just 0.44 against his slider.
RHP Michael Fulmer (1-3, 4.35), Tigers: Of all the negative numbers Fulmer has accrued in this recent stretch, what bothers him most are the eight walks in 16.1 innings. Five of the eight have scored. Here’s the odd part. He’s allowed14 runs in his last 16.1 innings, but opponents are hitting just .213 and slugging .393 against him. He’s not getting crushed.