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'He needs to find himself:' Tigers option Candelario to Triple-A Toledo

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News

Detroit — It probably shouldn’t have come as a surprise, but it did.

Tigers third baseman Jeimer Candelario, who has been struggling mightily at the plate since last June, was optioned to Triple-A Toledo after Wednesday's 5-1 loss to the Houston Astros.

Tigers' Jeimer Candelario walks off the field after striking out swinging to end the game.

“We’ve been trying to hold off on this to see if he’d get going, but it’s not working out,” Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire said. “It’s really tough but he needs to find himself. You can see he’s lost at the plate and he kind of takes it out on the field at times.

“I think he’s been a lot better defensively this year but he’s been a little sloppy lately and we’re having a hard time getting his attention. I think the hitting is bothering him and I think he understands that.”

Since June 8, Candelario, in 561 plate appearances, has hit .195 with 153 strikeouts. He’s hitting .192 this season with 46 strikeouts.

“You have some ups and downs,” Candelario said as he was packing his gear. “You just keep coming and working hard.”

He was asked if the move surprised him.

“What do you want me to say?” he said. “Can’t say nothing. They made the decision. Hopefully I will go down there and work hard and come back soon.”

The last straw was probably the error he made in the sixth inning Wednesday.

In another 0-for-4, two-strikeout night, Candelario booted a routine ground ball over the bag at third. Had he made the play, it might have been a triple play. It ended up costing the Tigers a run.

“He just needs to go find himself, find his swing,” Gardenhire said. “This is one of our future guys. He just needs to go find himself right now.”

The Tigers will announce a corresponding move Thursday morning. Dawel Lugo has been playing a lot of third base at Toledo, but the Tigers can use both Ronny Rodriguez and Gordon Beckham at third base.

There is a chance, with Jordy Mercer still on the injured list for another week or so, that the Tigers could purchase the contract of veteran shortstop Pete Kozma from the Mud Hens, which would require the Tigers removing a player off the 40-man roster.

Prospect Willi Castro is another option.

Twitter: @cmccosky