'I just love this team': Tigers catcher Eric Haase earned his own slice of history Tuesday
Seattle — The last time Eric Haase traveled with the Tigers, he was on the taxi squad and the club was in the thick of a 3-18 morass. Now he’s on the active roster and, well, it’s been a little different around here.
“I just love this team,” he said. “I can’t even put into words, just the energy shift from when I was here on the taxi squad. We feel like a winning baseball team right now. It’s something I got to experience a little bit with Cleveland and this feels the same.
“Just trying to keep that energy going as long as possible.”
The Tigers have won seven of nine since Haase's contract was purchased from Triple-A Toledo and he’s been right in the thick of the turnaround.
“He’s had quite a trip to Seattle,” manager AJ Hinch said. “He hit a couple of homers in Game One, catches a no-hitter in Game Two. I’m not sure what the encore will be (Wednesday) but I’m no dummy. I’m going to play him and see what happens.”
Haase made his fifth straight start in the finale against the Mariners Wednesday, his fourth start behind the plate. He’s hitting .300 and he’s developed a fast comfort level with the pitching staff, in particular Spencer Turnbull whose last two wins have been with Haase behind the plate, including the no-hitter Tuesday.
He became the first Tigers' rookie ever to catch a no-hitter.
“I caught two no-hitters in Triple-A, but to do it at the highest level,” Haase said with a shrug of disbelief. “I’m just so happy for Spencer. He looked so good. He deserved it.”
Turnbull and Haas were so in sync Tuesday, Turnbull didn’t shake off a single sign over the last four innings.
“The energy on this team is fantastic right now,” Haase said. “Whatever we can do to keep this moving forward is going to be awesome and I’m ready for that ride.”
As Hinch has said, the Tigers’ clubhouse never lacked for energy and vitality, even in the throes of the losing skid. But everything is better when you are winning.
“There’s a lot to like about the culture and vibe we have,” Hinch said. “And when you have success, it’s more fun. But we always have to just keep putting one foot in front of the other and keep working, keep holding each other accountable for our performances, our preparation and effort.”
Rehab stints coming
Tigers catcher Grayson Greiner, out since May 12 with a left hamstring strain, has been working out both in Toledo and Detroit while the Tigers have been on the road.
“He’s starting to ramp up,” Hinch said. “He’s running a little bit and doing a little catching activity. He’s not quite ready to play yet. But his activity will ramp up later into (next week) and he will play in some rehab games in the not so distant future.”
Left-handed reliever Derek Holland (shoulder strain) has begun throwing in Lakeland. He, too, could be ready to start a rehab assignment soon.
Manning struggling in Triple-A
Tigers top pitching prospect Matt Manning has gotten off to rough start at Triple-A Toledo, giving up eight home runs in 12.2 innings, which hasn’t escaped Hinch’s notice.
“He’s dealing with a lack of execution,” Hinch said. “He’s had a hard time keeping the ball in the ballpark, but the times in between, he’s thrown the ball pretty well. His stuff has played well.”
Manning has 14 strikeouts and just four walks, and the most significant part of it, he’s healthy.
“The balls flying out of the ballpark is a little concerning,” Hinch said. “But it’s one of the reasons I told him, we want him focused on getting outs at the Triple-A level. He’s got to earn his way up here. But his numbers are a little worse than how he’s throwing.”
Around the horn
Hinch said Turnbull was up late Tuesday night answering texts. "It's a big deal to everybody," Hinch said. "We will always remember this day. We will be talking about the next no-hitter and it'll be like, 'Oh yeah, I was there for Turnbull's no-hitter in Seattle.' I think it's memorable and said he got so many texts, including some from guys who've thrown no-hitters welcoming him to the no-hitter club. That's pretty good."
... By winning the first two games, the Tigers have taken a series in Seattle for the first time since July 6-8, 2015.
... Tigers outfield prospect Daz Cameron, out for three weeks with a fractured wrist, returned to the lineup in Toledo Wednesday.