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Chicago – Another day in the big leagues means another start at second base for Niko Goodrum.
It is becoming more of a habit with Ron Gardenhire, the Tigers manager, who happily wrote Goodrum's name on Wednesday's card as the Tigers got ready for Fourth of July duel with the Cubs at Wrigley Field.
"There's a hole there right now," Gardenhire said, speaking of second base, where the previous regular, Dixon Machado, didn't hit enough to earn regular work – yet, anyway.
That makes Goodrum an easy pick when a rookie who can slash an extra-base hit or sprint from first to third – or farther – has been bringing offense the Tigers crave.
"We planned on using him all over the place, but this is the best spot for him," Gardenhire said of Goodrum, a man who can play seven positions but who, mostly because of need, has been settling in of late at second.
"We've got a pretty good baseball player there. He's a guy who can drive the baseball."
Goodrum was hitting .353 in the first five games of a six-game road trip that was to wrap up Wednesday. On the season, he's at .236, with seven home runs, 16 doubles, two triples, and a .753 OPS.
Gardenhire remembers Goodrum from their common days with the Twins, after Goodrum had come aboard as a second-round draft pick in 2010.
"I don't know if I ever recognized how fast he is," Gardenhire said. "He's unbelievable, those strides he takes. I don't remember him running like this.
"This is the best baseball I've seen him play."
Goodrum has worked at first base, third base, and shortstop, which he acknowledges is his most comfortable spot.
He can play the outfield, as well. But with the Tigers having added Jim Adduci as an option at first base, and with the outfield full, as well as Jeimer Candelario and Jose Iglesias the daily choices at third base and shortstop, second base has become a handy option for all parties.
"He's pretty fun to watch," Gardenhire said. "I'm impressed by his arm strength. He can turn double-plays by flipping his wrists. It isn't always pretty, but he's getting opportunities and taking advantage."
The Tigers signed Goodrum after he had spent six seasons in the Twins minors without cracking their 25-man big-league roster.