As two Tigers veterans prepare to leave, Jake Rogers gets two hits in debut
Anaheim, Calif. — After the Tigers' 6-1 loss to the Los Angeles Angels Tuesday, Shane Greene and Nick Castellanos had a brief conversation inside the emptying clubhouse.
Even though it is quite possible both had taken off their Tigers jerseys for the last time, they were headed back to the hotel uncertain about what team they will play for come 4 p.m. Wednesday.
"This week is always tough," Castellanos said. "Even last year at this time. It's a weird feeling. It's almost like you are in two places at one time. I am ready to just know, one way or another."
Greene and Castellanos are still expected to be dealt ahead of the deadline Wednesday. But, when general manager Al Avila inadvertently interrupted manager Ron Gardenhire's postgame press conference with a phone call at 1:30 a.m. Eastern time, he said he was on his way home and no deal had been made.
"I am just like you guys, let's see what happens," Castellanos said. "I don't really have much to say, just that I am ready to know, one way or another."
A couple locker stalls down from where the two possibly exiting players had their conversation sat catcher Jake Rogers, whose Tigers career is just beginning. Kind of a poignant juxtaposition there.
"I took it all in as best I could," Rogers said of his major league debut. "It definitely lived up to my dreams."
He had a couple of hits, dropped a pop-up and — something he didn't do much of in the minor leagues — he had a base stolen on him.
"It was fun watching him," Gardenhire said. "You could tell he's really confident behind the plate."
He made a bid for a home run in his first at-bat — hitting a 3-2 fastball to the wall in center. The ball left his bat at 104 mph, but Mike Trout caught it on the warning track.
"Honestly, that ball went farther than I thought it would," Rogers said. "It got to the track, so I have to go lift more weights, I guess."
His first big-league hit came in the seventh, a well-struck RBI single to left off Angels reliever Taylor Cole.
He blooped a single to right in the ninth off Hansel Robles.
Shohei Ohtani stole second base against him — though to be fair, he got a huge jump against starter Drew VerHagen.
But what will torment Rogers most will be dropping Luis Regifo’s pop-up in front of home plate the sixth inning. Regifo would end up scoring on a ground out by Brian Goodwin.
"That needs to be caught," he said. "I just didn't get behind it, took a bad route to it and it beat me."
Gardenhire, though, would prefer first baseman Brandon Dixon to take charge on those.
"When the catcher turns and starts backing up in the infield, I want my first baseman to catch that," Gardenhire said. "I think Dixon knows that. Still, Rogers missed the ball. I can blame both of them."
The Tigers, who were blanked on four hits over six innings by Angels rookie right hander Griffin Canning, still have not won consecutive games since May 28-29.
The Tigers contributed to their own demise with some shoddy defensive work that led to a pair of unearned runs.
Drew VerHagen, in his second start since having his contract purchased from Triple-A Toledo, gave up 10 hits and four runs over 4 2/3 innings, but he pitched better than the stat line would indicate.
He gave up a two-run home run to Matt Thaiss in the second inning. Then in the fifth, he gave up a double to Goodwin and an RBI single to Ohtani, who had three hits.
That should have been all the damage against him. With two outs, shortstop Jordy Mercer booted a routine ground ball to extend the inning. VerHagen got Andrelton Simmons to hit a high pop-up into shallow left.
Again, the inning should have been over.
But Victor Reyes, JaCoby Jones and Mercer converged and nobody caught it — RBI double.
"That was a huge play," Gardenhire said. "We were playing deep in left field and Reyes broke back. If you are playing deep you shouldn't be breaking back. If it's hit over your head it's going over the fence.
"We got a bad read on that. It should have been caught."