Detroit Tigers’ Akil Baddoo makes debut; Miguel Cabrera well being replace
It’s time Detroit Tigers outfielder Akil Baddoo made his MLB debut.
While Baddoo’s first taste of the majors was not expected in years, as in the case of Casey Mize and Tarik Skubal, the 22-year-old got on the radar of the organization, manager AJ Hinch and fans in spring training.
“I would imagine that he will be pretty excited today,” said Hinch on Sunday morning.
Baddoo, a rule 5 draft pick in December, went 13v40 (.325) in spring training with two doubles, five homers, 11 RBIs, 10 walks and 14 strikeouts. He had four stolen bases in six chances. If he doesn’t stay on the active 26-man roster throughout the 2021 season, he will have to be offered to the Minnesota Twins.
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So far, Baddoo has mastered every challenge.
Hinch gave him another test on Sunday: Baddoo started in left field against Cleveland Indians right-handed Aaron Civale as the Tigers started the season with a three-game series sweep of their rivals in the American League Central.
“Let your family know you have your first start on Sunday,” Hinch told Baddoo. “But I’ll try to get you into the game on Saturday when the game comes up.”
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Baddoo didn’t play above High-A in the minor leagues and underwent surgery from Tommy John in May 2019. That year he scored 29 homers and nine RBIs – with 12 walks and 39 strikeouts – in 29 games for High-A .214. A Fort Myers. In 2018, he had a batting average of .243, 11 homers and 40 RBIs in 113 games for Low-A Cedar Rapids.
Still, Baddoo left his mark in spring training and was rewarded with a place in the Tigers. Hinch keeps the youngsters busy and carries five outfielders to start the season.
He’ll be mixing Baddoo with a more experienced crew of four: Robbie Grossman, Nomar Mazara, JaCoby Jones, and Victor Reyes. Baddoo is used as a prize runner and defensive substitute.
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“He deserves the right to be on this team and he will earn his time if he can continue that kind of performance,” said Hinch. “It’s an uncomfortable environment for most people when you get into the big leagues and try to make an impression. He was comfortable in his own skin from the start.”
According to MLB Pipeline, he is number 24 in the Tiger farm system.
Miggy health update
Baddoo almost made his debut in a 5-2 win over the Indians on Saturday.
“I asked him when he was in the circle yesterday: ‘How is your heartbeat?’ “Said Hinch. “He looked at me like I was crazy, like it was okay, I’m about to play baseball. He’s pretty cool.”
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In the eighth inning, the “whole body” of the designated batsman Miguel Cabrera cramped, explained Hinch after the game. So Baddoo was standing in the deck circle ready to take his place as a prize hitter. The third, however, was made before it could get a record appearance.
The 37-year-old Cabrera was not included in Sunday’s line-up for the series finale in his 19th MLB season. But Hinch isn’t worried about Cabrera’s health.
“I was looking for a day off for him,” said Hinch. “It’s handy since he was a little sore yesterday and I want to buy everyone some playing time. A little bit of both, but nothing I’m worried about at the moment.”
In two games, Cabrera is 2: 7 (.286) with a home run, three RBIs, a walk and a strikeout. He defeated MLB’s first homer of the new season in the first inning against Indian Shane Bieber on opening day.
Evan Petzold is a sports reporter for the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold.
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