Tigers' Jeimer Candelario allays injury worries with 2-HR outing
Detroit — Jeimer Candelario’s sore wrist is feeling better, as Saturday’s Tigers box score might confirm.
He hit home runs in his first two at-bats, then finished his day with a 10-pitch walk, all before he scampered home for Detroit’s final run in a game that saw the White Sox whip the Tigers, 8-4, at Comerica Park.
Candelario missed nearly two weeks with a tender ligament in his left wrist before making it back for Friday’s game against the White Sox.
Saturday, he was back to being Candelario, which in 2018 means he was hitting the ball hard and far and being picky at the plate, both of which irk pitchers who don’t care for two-home-run games or 10-pitch at-bats.
“One thing I always have in mind is don’t give up at-bats,” Candelario said after he hit his team-leading sixth and seventh bombs, in the first and third innings, against White Sox starter Hector Santiago.
“I’m feeling really awesome right now,” he said, insisting his left wrist has healed. “I’ve been following my routine, trying to recognize pitches.”
Candelario is a switch-hitter the Tigers were happy to grab in last July’s deadline trade with the Cubs that sent Justin Wilson and Alex Avila to Chicago. He plugged in at third base during spring camp and has been playing niftily since. He’s batting .277 with an .893 OPS.
In the first inning Saturday, after Nick Castellanos had gotten on base courtesy of Tim Anderson’s first of three errors on the day, Candelario, batting right-handed against Santiago, launched a first-pitch laser into the left-center field seats.
It came on a 90-mph Santiago fastball, which Candelario was expecting.
“Our scouting report said we should be attacking his fastball in the first inning,” Candelario said. “We had to take advantage.”
In the third inning, he lofted a Santiago slider beyond the left-field wall.
And in the ninth, with two gone in a game that might as well have been gone, he fouled pitches against White Sox closer Joakim Soria, stretching out an at-bat and an inning that led to a walk.
The walk turned into a final run as Anderson added two more errors on Pete Kozma’s grounder, one fielding the ball, and the other throwing badly to home, which allowed Candelario, the stubborn one, to score another run.
Victor Martinez had a pair of singles Saturday as he continues to fight notions that a 39-year-old hitter can’t produce. He’s batting .333 in his last nine games.
The Tigers had 10 hits, two of which came from rookie all-purpose tool Niko Goodrum, who had a blast against the right-center field scoreboard for a triple, as well as a single.
The triple was Goodrum’s first as a big-leaguer.
Jordan Zimmermann will start for Triple-A Toledo in a Sunday evening game against Norfolk at Fifth Third Field. Zimmermann has been on the disabled list with a right shoulder impingement.
Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire said Sunday’s rehab start would be the first of at least two such stints as Zimmermann tunes ahead of rejoining Detroit’s rotation.
Zimmermann has been on the disabled list the past three weeks.
Gardenhire also said Miguel Cabrera will take batting practice Sunday as he heals from a bad hamstring. There is no firm forecast for when Cabrera will return.