For Tigers' Isaac Paredes, it's 'just another game' facing Cubs

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Detroit — In this instance, it was just another game, and will be just another series, for Tigers third baseman Isaac Paredes.

Sure, Paredes was dealt from the Chicago Cubs to the Tigers at the 2017 trade deadline, but Paredes was in the minor leagues then, and many miles from the majors.

The teammates were different, the faces not entirely familiar Monday with the Cubs at Comerica Park.

“It’s just another game,” said Paredes, through an interpreter, Monday in a Zoom call with the media. “Basically, I know no one around there.”

Tigers' Isaac Paredes singles in the eighth inning.  Detroit Tigers vs Chicago Cubs at Comerica Park in Detroit on Aug, 25, 2020.  Tigers win, 7-1.

Paredes and Jeimer Candelario arrived from the Cubs in the trade for Justin Wilson and Alex Avila.

Paredes, still only 21, was a prime acquisition piece then, and remains an important brick in the Tigers’ rebuild.

In his first 20 at-bats with the Tigers, Paredes has five hits (.250), with a .768 OPS, one home run and six RBIs.

“It’s something I’m still learning,” said Paredes of the adjustment to the major leagues. “I’m a rookie. I need a lot of games. I need some games to catch my rhythm and get the trust (in myself) when I go to the battter’s box.”

Still, facing the Cubs brought back the memory of finding out of being traded, and the shock that represented.

And make no mistake, it was a surprise for the young Paredes, who felt he would be making his major league debut with the Cubs — not with anyone else.

“I spent all that time with my (minor league) teammates there and I was in Class A and I wanted to be in the majors with them next to me in the majors,” Paredes said. “It took me off guard. I had to get used to it.

“I remember (the day of the trade), I was in South Bend. It was a day off. Suddenly I was receiving congratulations from a lot of people. I didn’t know what was happening.

“In the end, my agent, a new agent, called and told me I was traded. I couldn’t believe it.”

But, having faced the Tigers’ Midwest League West Michigan team in the Midwest League, Paredes was a bit apprehensive.

“Facing the Whitecaps, they had a great team, they were setting records every single day,” Paredes said. “So I was wondering why am I going over there? They’re not going to give me a chance (to play). I’ll be on the bench.

“But I arrived here and everything was different.”

Paredes quickly learned there was a chance to show he could someday play in the majors, probably quicker in a rebuilding organization like the Tigers rather than the veteran Cubs.

“I knew the Tigers have some open spots,” Paredes said. “I guess I didn’t disappoint them. I worked very hard (to get here).”

One of the first things the Tigers’ front office told Paredes was to shave off his beard.

“It was something different than I was used to with the Cubs, a little more strict here, but in the end, that’s what makes you a real pro,” Paredes said.

This season, whatever hope Paredes had of reaching the majors appeared to be slowed when he contracted the coronavirus, then being assigned to Toledo and the taxi squad once the major league season got underway.

But Paredes wasn’t going to be denied.

“When I was in Toledo I wasn’t thinking about getting called (up). I felt the doors were shut down for me this year because of the COVID and in spring training I lost a lot of time because of an injury to my shoulder.

“It was pretty hard, I saw my dreams were fading away. I worked hard to make my debut in the majors this year, but I didn’t give up when I was told I was going to Toledo. I grabbed my courage and put in the work. It’s never too late to fulfill your dreams so I kept working very hard and the coaches helped me a lot down there and here I am trying to fulfill my dreams and leave behind the stories of the coronavirus.”

With right-hander Alec Mills on the mound for the Cubs Monday, manager Ron Gardenhire had Paredes out of the starting lineup.

Different times

The trade deadline, amazingly, is next Monday, what with this downsized major league schedule because of the pandemic.

Gardenhire isn’t concerning himself with the rumors, and this year, with no media in the clubhouses and talk of any rumors way down, the players are likely more of the loop also.

 “The trade deadline, that’s upstairs, Al (Tigers GM Al Avila) and those guys take care of that stuff,” said Gardenhire of any sort of trade talks. “Because of the situation (coronavirus) we’re in, they (the players) probably won’t hear a lot about like they normally would, having you guys (reporters) in the clubhouse telling them where they’ll get traded to.

“That goes on outside of our clubhouse. We can’t do anything about it.”

Around the horn

Gardenhire said there’s a delicate balance between using closer Joe Jimenez, when and how often, with the Tigers’ busy schedule.

“He needed to pitch (Sunday) and you saw the results,” said Gardenhire of his uneven performance. “He hasn’t been out there enough and he misfired all over the place probably trying to overthrow the ball.

“Hopefully, we’ll get him in some save situations and see how he does and he’ll handle it the way he can.”

… Gardenhire said he’s met Cubs manager David Ross when Ross was a player, but only knows Ross in passing.

One thing for sure, though. Gardenhire would not duplicate Ross’ appearance on "Dancing With The Stars."

“I saw that,” said Gardenhire of Ross’ dancing exploits. “No chance.”

Cubs at Tigers

First pitch: Tuesday, 7:10 p.m.

TV/radio: FSD, 97.1

Starting pitcher: RHP Spencer Turnbull (2-2, 3.65) Tigers -- Turnbull threw 60 pitches over only two innings of work against the White Sox and suffered a disappointing loss. He never looked comfortable and was never in rhythm. Turnbull looks to get his season back on track.

Twitter: @tkulfan