New faces: Jake Rogers, Travis Demeritte make Comerica Park debuts
Detroit — With a big hug for his new catcher and a friendly greeting to an old Arizona Fall League teammate before his own Comerica Park return, Spencer Turnbull’s entrance into the clubhouse Monday encapsulated today’s Tigers.
Times are changing.
The new faces were catcher Jake Rogers and right fielder Travis Demeritte, who earned starts in their first visit to Detroit’s ballpark.
Rogers, 24, walked into his new home with relief pitcher Nick Ramirez, thankfully.
"He had to show me the ropes, how to get in here. I was kind of lost,” Rogers said. “I just never had the opportunity to (come to Detroit) on the off days.”
That help would fall under the directive of Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire, who said young players can be helped with teamwork.
“Come up here, get acclimated to it, prepare yourself each and every day, and ask questions,” Gardenhire said. “If you don’t know answers to certain parts of it, ask questions. And listen when people try to offer you a little bit of help, don’t shut people out.
“This is a tough league. It’s never easy for the young kids. Very few of them come up and just bomb it right away, so you’re going to go through some periods here where it's going to be some rough times, and that’s when they have to lean on these other guys on how to get through these things and the coaching staff.”
Before Monday, Rogers last caught Turnbull in Double-A Erie last season. Turnbull has been out since July 17 when was sidelined with an upper back strain, and pitched one rehab start in Toledo on July 30.
Rogers, rated as the No. 9 prospect in the system by The Detroit News, made his debut in the majors on July 30 against the Los Angeles Angels and homered in his second game on July 31.
July 31 also was the day the Tigers acquired Demeritte and prospect pitcher Joey Wentz from Atlanta for closer Shane Greene leading up to the trade deadline.
Demeritte, a former first-round pick and now the No. 38 Detroit News Tigers prospect, made his major league debut on Aug. 2 in Texas. His triple that night was his only hit in nine at-bats over the weekend.
Greene, meanwhile, is having a tough time with the Braves, allowing four runs in two innings over two appearances, blowing a save on Saturday in his first Atlanta outing and then suffering the loss on Sunday.
When the Tigers flew into town Sunday night, both rookies were coming to Detroit for the first time. After arriving Monday, both worked out and toured the spacious stadium.
“It seemed a little bigger (than I expected) actually, but I’m not really too worried about it,” said Demeritte, who played for the Salt River Rafters in the 2016 Arizona Fall League with Tigers teammates Turnbull, Grayson Greiner, JaCoby Jones, Dawel Lugo and Christin Stewart. “I’m excited to see what the city of Detroit is all about.”
Added Rogers: “Honestly, just being around is really cool. It’s a really cool atmosphere, really cool stadium.
“It’s been a whirlwind. But being here, it’s slowing down for sure.”
While activating Turnbull, the Tigers placed right-hander Jordan Zimmermann on the injured list with a right cervical spasm.
After Zimmermann pitched six innings and struck out seven in Texas on Sunday, Gardenhire said he has elected to get an injection, based on the recommendation of team trainers and doctors.
“He knows what his body needs to go out there and pitch,” Gardenhire said. “They said this is the way to go to get you through the rest of the year.”
Gardenhire said he expects Zimmermann to miss a start or two.
Zimmermann, 33, is 1-8 with a 7.13 ERA, earning his first victory of the season on July 29.
Around the horn
The Tigers recalled right-handed reliever Eduardo Jimenez, who was optioned following Sunday's game, and activated right-handed reliever Victor Alcantara, who was then optioned to Triple-A Toledo.
... Gardenhire said Stewart’s health is improving since suffering a concussion last week after crashing into the outfield wall at Angel Stadium. Stewart is on the 7-day injured list.
White Sox at Tigers
First pitch: Tuesday doubleheader — 1:10 p.m. and 7:10 p.m., Comerica Park, Detroit
TV/radio: Both games on FSD/97.1
►LHP Daniel Norris (3-8, 4.67), Tigers: Norris has three wins in 19 starts this season. He’ll be trying to earn a win in consecutive starts for the first time since June 2017.
►RHP Dylan Cease (1-4, 6.43), White Sox: Cease, Chicago's No. 4 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, is making his sixth career start and second against Detroit. He features a strong fastball and curveball combination.
►RHP Drew VerHagen (1-2, 11.66), Tigers: VerHagen has a 1-0 record with a 1.17 ERA in 14 career relief appearances against the White Sox. Before Monday’s game, Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire said Nick Ramirez and Gregory Soto could be available for long relief this week.
►LHP Hector Santiago (1-0, 6.75), White Sox: After being signed by the White Sox on June 21, Santiago comes up from Triple-A Charlotte for his first start this season. He made eight relief appearances with the New York Mets but was designated for assignment.
Matt Schoch is a freelance writer.