Buck Farmer was ready and willing to play outfield for short-handed Tigers
Minneapolis — Buck Farmer left his outfielder glove in Detroit, but no matter. If manager Ron Gardenhire needed an emergency fielder Saturday, he was ready.
“It would be awesome,” he said. “It would be — awesome.”
As Gardenhire said, the Tigers had a bit of a lineup issue Saturday.
“It’s called, not enough people,” he said.
Right fielder Nick Castellanos will not play in either game against the Twins this weekend. The tendinitis in his right big toe is better, but he's still not fit to play in sub-40-degree temperatures.
“We don’t want this to linger and then end up putting him on the injured list,” Gardenhire said. “We have a day off Monday, so we’ll see where he’s at on Tuesday.”
The Tigers also were without Niko Goodrum on Saturday. He is the latest victim of a flu bug that has swept through the clubhouse. Left fielder Christin Stewart was stricken Thursday but was feeling good enough to play Saturday.
So, the Tigers went into the game with Dustin Peterson in right field, John Hicks at first base and Miguel Cabrera serving as the designated hitter. That left one position player on the bench — Gordon Beckham.
And that’s why Farmer was forewarned — he might be used as an emergency outfielder.
“This is what you worry about when you have a three-man bench and one of them goes down and another gets sick,” Gardenhire said. “Now you have to start looking at your pitchers. I watch guys shag fly balls (during batting practice) and Buck Farmer is the guy who shags all the time and he can run them down.
“They all (pitchers) tell you, I’m really good at that stuff. But I know Buck does it. He does it as part of his workout. He stands out in center field and left field and he’s running balls down like a freight train.”
The Tigers ended the game with no healthy position players on the bench. Beckham was summoned after shortstop Jordy Mercer strained his right quadriceps in the fifth inning.
And Farmer did get into the game — but not as an outfielder. He pitched a scoreless ninth.
The Tigers haven't gotten many breaks offensively this season, but they got one in the third inning Saturday.
Grayson Greiner and Jordy Mercer singled to start the inning against Twins starter Michael Pineda. JaCoby Jones then hit a hard ground ball right at second baseman Jonathan Schoop.
A sure double-play ball, except standing in front of Schoop was second base umpire Chris Guccione. The ball hit Guccione on the leg, giving Jones a single and loading the bases with no outs.
A sacrifice fly by Josh Harrison and a single by Jeimer Candelario netted the two runs.
Jones had two hits in the game, stole a base and threw out Twins Eddie Rosario at second base trying to tag and advance on a fly ball to right-center field.
The Tigers somehow kept the score 4-3 in the seventh inning despite walking the bases loaded with nobody out.
Drew VerHagen (11 pitches, just three strikes) walked the first two, then lefty Daniel Stumpf walked left-handed hitting Max Kepler.
But Stumpf, down 3-0 in the count to Jorge Polanco, battled back. After Polanco fouled off two pitches, Stumpf threw a change-up to get the swinging strikeout.
A 3-2 change-up? With the bases loaded. Gutsy.
"I'm a magician," Stumpf said with a grin. "I'm not scared. I'll pull everything out if I have to."
Victor Alcantara came on to strike out Nelson Cruz (on a 3-2 pitch after a lengthy battle) and, on a 3-1 pitch, got Eddie Rosario to fly out to the warning track in center.
There were 37 pitches thrown that inning and only one put in play.
Around the horn
Outfielder Mikie Mahtook, who was designated for assignment on Thursday, has cleared waivers and was reassigned to Triple-A Toledo.
...The Tigers are expecting to make a decision soon on starting pitcher Matt Moore, who is on the injured list with a meniscus strain. He has been trying to avoid arthroscopic surgery, hoping to be able to rehab it.
... Hall-of-Famer Alan Trammell will serve as Gardenhire's bench coach in this two-game series. He's filling in for Steve Liddle, who was home tending to a family matter.