Tigers notes: Christin Stewart designated for assignment; Spencer Turnbull cleared to work out
Detroit – Two years ago, he hit a game-winning home run in the 10th inning to give the Tigers an Opening Day win in Toronto.
On Thursday, as the Tigers opened the season against Cleveland at Comerica Park, outfielder Christin Stewart was informed that he was no longer on the 40-man roster, that he’d been designated for assignment.
Baseball is hard.
“Obviously we still think he’s a good player and has potential,” manager AJ Hinch said. “We will let the process play out now. But as we build this team, we’ve already had hard decisions on who made the team and we’re going to have harder decisions on who to keep on the roster as guys push to get to the big leagues.”
Stewart, three times the club’s minor-league player of the year, was DFA’d to clear a roster space for left-handed reliever Derek Holland, who made the team this spring as a non-roster invitee. Stewart is 27 and still under team control through 2022. The Tigers are hopeful he can clear waivers and return to Triple-A Toledo.
“It’s tough news to hear when you are a player,” Hinch said. “He’s at a crossroad right now. Is he going to be in the organization, another organization, on the roster, off the roster? Baseball can beat you up a little bit.”
All the power potential Stewart showed at every level of the minor leagues hasn’t translated against Major League pitching. In 587 plate appearances over three seasons, Stewart his just 15 home runs and hit .225 with a high strikeout rate (25%) and a low walk rate (8%).
Hinch also said before the game that starting pitcher Spencer Turnbullhas been cleared to work out and resume baseball activities at the Tigers’ spring training complex in Lakeland.
“I guess you’d call it an extended spring training,” Hinch said.
Turnbull was shut down after three spring starts and placed on the non-baseball (COVID-19) injured list. He’s not expected to be back with the team until the middle of the month.
“He’s going to stay down there and throw a few bullpens to get his legs underneath him and get his arm moving,” Hinch said. “Eventually we will transition him to the alternate site (Toledo) where we can get him in a more competitive environment.
“He’s in spring training mode in Lakeland.”
Jones runs it down
Indians second baseman Cesar Hernandez led off the eighth inning hitting a missile 386 feet to the gate leading to the visitors bullpen in center field. That ball, on most days, is a triple.
Not this day.
JaCoby Jones, playing on the right field side of center, got a superb break and ran it down at the fence.
"Jones took about as perfect a route as you can take," Hinch said. "He went a really long way. If you want an appreciation of how big Comerica Park is, just watch that play."
Thursday was the first time Tigers shortstop Willi Castro and his brother-in-law Amed Rosario faced each other in a big-league game.
“Yeah, we talked a little bit (Wednesday),” Castro said. “But we don’t really talk about baseball.”
Rosario, who the Indians acquired from the Mets, was not in the starting lineup Thursday. Neither of their wives or children were coming to the game, for good reason.
“I decided not to bring my wife or my daughter today,” Castro said. “It’s going to be too cold. Maybe the next couple of days will be better.”
Around the horn
...Indians starter Shane Bieber, the reigning American League Cy Young winner, gave up three runs early but he was lights-out after that. He ended up with 12 strikeouts and allowed just one hit after the second.
… Right-handed pitcher Rony Garcia, who missed all spring after an appendectomy, was placed on the 10-day injured list with an abdominal strain.
… Hinch said he plans to get all 13 of his position players a start in one of the first three or four games of the season. “You want to get your team in there, get them acclimated and up and running as fast as possible,” he said. “You’re going to see a couple of different lineups in these first few games.”