Tigers' Goodrum miffed at Abreu's apparent intent to injure with late slide

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News

Minneapolis — From the on-field dustup between the Tigers and White Sox on Monday, there are two separate battle fronts. 

One is at home plate where Tigers' rookie right-hander Alex Lange drilled White Sox slugger Jose Abreu on the elbow with a 97-mph, 0-2 fastball in the top of the ninth inning. 

Tigers shortstop Niko Goodrum.

The other is at second base, where Abreu's rage manifested itself in a hard, late, past-the-bag slide on Tigers shortstop Niko Goodrum that prompted both benches and bullpens to empty.

Goodrum was the only participant from the fracas who didn't speak after the game on Monday. He spoke plenty before the game here Tuesday.

"It starts to get to the point where you break my leg and that's it," said Goodrum, who on the field asked Abreu what he was trying to do with that slide. "Everybody out here is just trying to feed their families. He got hit and that hurts. Everyone gets hit. 

"They say he got hit a lot of times this season (21), but we don't know that. I'm not looking at how many times someone gets hit by a pitch."

Goodrum said if Abreu had a problem with Lange, or with manager AJ Hinch, he should've taken it up with them. He had nothing to do with it.

"I've been playing against the White Sox for four years and he's never done anything like that, he doesn't play that way," Goodrum said. "So that brings in more things with me to where I'm going to check him — like, what's up?"

Goodrum felt like the dirty slide was premeditated.

"You get hit and you're mad, I understand that," Goodrum said. "Once you get to first, you have all that time and you go in your head plotting stuff, what you're going to do next. I know what's going on. 

"You have all that time to think about what you're going to do and that's what you decide to do? I have a problem with that."

Goodrum said he knows the difference between an aggressive play and a dangerous play.

"I'm a baserunner," he said. "I steal bases. I'm aggressive on the basepaths. But I also know when there is intent, when you are trying to do something because you are mad. When you start to put someone's career at stake, I have an issue with that."

Goodrum is going into an arbitration year and doesn't have a guaranteed contract for 2022. A slide like that could jeopardize his career. He brought up Chase Utley's slide against the Mets in 2015 that broke Ruben Tejada's leg. 

The rules were changed after that, prohibiting baserunners from sliding past the bag.

"I don't agree with sliding that late," Goodrum said. "You see it back in the day, that's how they sent a message, right? But they put that rule in for a reason, so guys don't get their legs broke.

"All Chase Utley is going to say is he's sorry. He can just apologize for what he's done. But the other guy, his leg is broke. You have guys not on a contract and then you're trying to figure out how you're going to feed your family."

Goodrum doesn't know whether the incident will bleed into the weekend series in Chicago or not. From his part, though, he's said what he wanted to say.

"We'll keep playing," Goodrum said. "But that happened."

Pitching in vs. throwing in 

On Sirius-XM Radio’s MLB Radio on Tuesday morning, Hinch reiterated a lot of what he said after the game, stressing that there was no intent by Lange to hit Abreu and that he understood why Abreu would be upset.

But that's not going to impact how his pitchers attack the White Sox or any other team going forward.

“I realized after the game that he’d been hit like 21 times, so I totally get it," Hinch said. "This is the last week and they are playing out the schedule getting ready to get into the playoffs. Nobody wants anyone to get hurt.

“But that doesn’t mean you stop competing. It doesn’t mean you’re going to ask us to throw down-and-away fastballs to avoid any sort of issue with people. We aren’t targeting anybody.”

Hinch also referenced the postgame comment from White Sox manager Tony La Russa.

“It seems they (Tigers) have issues when someone plays aggressively but not when they pitch aggressively and beyond the limits," La Russa said. "The game is played two ways, not just one way."  

Hinch said after the game and again on Tuesday, neither he nor his club have any problems playing aggressively.

“We’re going to pitch inside," he said. "We’re going to pitch inside the next six games. Obviously, we don’t want anything bad to happen to anybody and I don’t expect anything bad to happen.

“But you can’t stop competing just because one side doesn’t like it.”

La Russa, who was seen speaking to a couple of the Tigers' pitchers during the dustup, clarified his point to Chicago reporters on Tuesday.  

"There is a difference between pitching in and throwing in," he said. "Throwing in means you're aiming it there but you're not really sure where it goes. ... If you lack command, then be careful throwing the ball in, especially up and in."

White Sox pitchers have hit the fewest number of hitters in baseball, 50, so he practices what he preaches to his own team. The problem is, he doesn't get to dictate how other teams pitch to his hitters.

"If you get the ball down where it's not so dangerous, you have the same effect," La Russa said. "You speed up the bat and you can have more of a chance to pitch away. You don't have to pitch up and in. It's a small target and not that many guys have that kind of control."


Twitter: @cmccosky

On deck: Twins

►First pitch: 7:40 p.m., Target Field, Minneapolis

►TV/radio: BSD, 97.1.

Scouting report

►RHP Casey Mize (7-8, 3.63), Tigers: This will the 30th and last start of what has been an encouraging rookie season. He’s maintained a sub-4.00 ERA since May and a 1.1 WHIP. Four of his five pitches have performed consistently well: Four-seam (.227), slider (.183), split (.206) and curve (.138). The two-seamer has been problematic (.322 average, .557 slug).

►RHP Michael Pineda (8-8, 3.73), Twins: When healthy, he’s been a consistent, solidifying presence in what has been a sketchy rotation. In three seasons in Minnesota, he’s 21-13, with a 3.84 ERA, 1.18 WHIP in 51 starts. He’s allowed just four earned runs in his last four starts covering 18.2 innings.

—Chris McCosky