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'I play hard:' Tigers' Goodrum won't apologize for aggressive play

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News
Tigers left fielder Brandon Dixon (12) and center fielder Niko Goodrum run into each other after Goodrum misplayed a two-run home run by Seattle Mariners' Kyle Seager during the ninth inning of Tuesday's game.

Detroit — Niko Goodrum fielded questions about Tuesday night's two near-collisions with left fielder Brandon Dixon the same way he tracked those two fly balls — aggressively.

“I play hard,” he said before Wednesday's game. “That’s the only way I play.”

The two plays opened the door for eight runs in the Seattle Mariners’ 11-6 win. With one out in the sixth inning, Goodrum and Dixon converged on a slicing liner by Daniel Vogelbach. Dixon was in position to catch the ball but pulled back at the last second when he felt Goodrum charging.

The Mariners went on to score six runs in the inning.

Then in the ninth, Kyle Seager hit another slicing liner, this one toward the wall in left-center. Goodrum got his glove on it, but as he collided with Dixon, he inadvertently flung the ball over the fence — a two-run home run.

“Communication is key, I guess,” Dixon said. “It was unfortunate. Just two guys trying to make plays who didn’t communicate well.”

Goodrum, who was making his eighth appearance of the season in center field and his first alongside Dixon in left, was asked if it was a teaching moment for him.

“No,” he said. “I play one way, that’s it. I play hard. We had different people in different positions who haven’t played together. As you play more and more with people, you start to learn what a person likes to do — he can go this way or that way. We didn’t get that chance.”

Dixon wasn’t accepting any pardons.

“It was a communication error, as simple as that,” he said. “He’s had some games out there and I’ve had some games out there (eight in left). For that to happen, you just have to grow from it.”

Dixon said the Seager play was more difficult because of how far the ball traveled.

“That was a tough one just because it’s a play where you don’t really call it because you don’t know if you are going to get there,” he said. “And we both got there at the same time.”

Goodrum said, “I caught the ball. Then we hit and it came out of my glove and went over the fence.”

Asked about the communication, Goodrum said, “It’s a thing where I just felt that was my ball. When you are going full speed like that you can’t really hear anyway.”

Dixon said he hadn’t looked at the replay.

“I don’t have cable, so unless it’s on Netflix, I’m not going to see it,” he said. “Ten years from now maybe I will watch it and make fun of myself. But in the moment, it’s not something you want to be a part of. It cost our pitcher some earned runs.”

Manager Ron Gardenhire talked to both players and reiterated his message from Tuesday night: Talk.

“Goody is trying to make a play and Dixon is trying to make a play,” he said. “But we’ve got to communicate. You’ve got to look, you can’t just run. You have to look at the other guy and see where he’s at.”

The root cause of plays like that, of course, is state of the Tigers’ roster right now. Center fielder JaCoby Jones (wrist) is out for the year. Left fielder Christin Stewart (concussion) is on the injured list. Rookie Travis Demeritte has 12 big-league games under his belt.

Goodrum, Dixon and Harold Castro are utility players who have played all over the diamond this season.

“Chemistry is part of winning,” Goodrum said. “Team chemistry. It’s something you’ve got to build by playing with each other every day. We’re trying to build that chemistry, but it’s really difficult when you don’t play the same position every day.”

Goodrum has played every position except pitcher and catcher.

“I just go play,” he said. “Do I want to play one position? Yeah, who doesn’t. You can get better every day doing the same thing over and over. Moving around is difficult. The game itself is difficult, then your moving around adds to it.

“It is what it is. It was never an easy thing to begin with.”

Around the horn

The Tigers called up right-handed reliever David McKay, whom they claimed off waivers from Seattle last week. The 24-year-old, whom the Mariners had acquired for cash considerations of one dollar from the Royals, pitched in two games at Triple-A Toledo and struck out six hitters in two clean innings. He had pitched seven innings with the Mariners earlier in the season and allowed five runs and eight walks.

… Catcher Grayson Greiner, out since June 14 with a lower back strain, began a rehab assignment Wednesday at High-A Lakeland. “He’s got to be ready by Sept. 1 (when rosters expand) or he will have nowhere else to go,” Gardenhire said. “We hope he’ll be ready to come up and help us.”

… Stewart began his second rehab stint at Triple-A Toledo on Wednesday.

Mariners at Tigers

First pitch: Thursday 1:10 p.m., Comerica Park, Detroit

TV/radio: FSD/97.1

Scouting report

LHP Tommy Milone (1-7, 4.70), Mariners: He will be the primary pitcher for the Mariners, who will start a reliever to open the game. He pitched five innings against the Tigers in Seattle, allowing two runs with five strikeouts. He’s coming off a rough one against the Rays — three home runs allowed in four innings.

RHP Spencer Turnbull (3-10, 3.68), Tigers: This will be his third start since he came off the injured list. He went six innings against the Royals in his last start and allowed just two runs and three hits. Except for one wild inning, his command was markedly better.

Twitter: @cmccosky