This time, Detroit Tigers hunter Eric Haas wasn’t mowing the lawn.
He was pushing his lawnmower through his backyard in early August 2021, when the organization called to inform Haas that he had been named MLS Player of the Month for July. One year later, the 29-year-old picked up another award.
Haas — who grew up in Westland and now lives in Livonia — is the winner of the 2022 Tigers Heart and Hustle Award, announced Thursday by the MLB Players Alumni Association. The MLB winner will be announced in mid-November on the MLB Network.
“It definitely means a lot. I love doing work in the dark. I hope the fans see that when I get out there, I’m playing hard and I want to win. The year hasn’t gone by anything as soon as we imagined this, but I hope to be here for a long time and can be a part of a correction.” The ship is in the right direction.”
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The Heart and Hustle Award, voted before the All-Star break by former players, honors one player from each team for showing passion on the field and embodying the values and traditions of the game.
As for Haas’ production, he’s battling 0.236 with eight doubles, eight home runs, 26 RBIs, 15 walks and 57 hits in 69 games. Since June 2, he’s posted .276/.321/.496 slashes, including six from Homer, in 42 games (30 starts).
Tigers 42-65 this season – worst in AL Central and third-worst in MLB – and despite several brutal losses, Haase can be found near his wardrobe answering tough questions about the team’s poor performance, even when many of his teammates are. Nowhere to be seen.
“You play for your teammates, you play for yourself,” Haas said. “For everyone in the locker room, this could be the last day we live here. They can bring in a whole new front office. They can bring in a whole new coaching staff. They can replace our players any time they want. The worst thing you can do is give up and stop your guys At least, you’re doing it for yourself and trying to put that work into every single day.”
No Tiger did not win the overall award, although two players – Torii Hunter (2011) and Josh Harrison (2014) – did win it before joining the organization. Other winners: Roy Halladay (2010), Mike Trout (2012), Dustin Pedroia (2013), Anthony Rizzo (2015), Todd Frazier (2016), Brett Gardner (2017), Mookie Betts (2018), Howie Kendrick (2019) and Ozzie Albis (2021).
Last year, Robbie Grossman was the Tigers winner.
“Who better than a man from his hometown to represent that bounty?” Director AJ Hinch said. “He’s loved by the fans, but also by his teammates. He probably cherishes wearing our Xena uniform like everyone else in that room. We all do, but Heisei grew up going to Tiger Stadium and dreaming of being a tiger.
“He represents us very well. He plays with such passion and joy. His career trajectory has not been a natural one, and to achieve that, recognizing the passion he brings to the field is absolutely fantastic.”
Tarik Skubal is ready to test the arm
Left-handed Tarik Scopal (left arm fatigue) will resume his throwing program in two days, after abstaining from throwing for the past few days to rest his arm. Tigers put him on the 15-day infected list on Wednesday, retroactively through Tuesday.
“There’s not a lot of clarity about the exact diagnosis,” Hinch said.
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When Skubal begins his throwing program, he will assess feelings and sensations in his left arm. If the 25-year-old has no issues, he will be able to progress toward a return to rotation this season.
“There’s a chance it won’t be very long,” Hinch said. “There’s also a chance that we can be more conservative with him based on where he’s at, where we’re at and the reality of the season. Day in and day out we make a plan, but as much as we’re after him, he still feels something.”
Skubal has a 3.52 ERA with 32 turns and 117 strikes over a 117 degree turn in 21 starts. He knocked out Tuesday’s start against the Minnesota Twins after five runs and 77 throws due to arm fatigue.
“It doesn’t seem like a big deal, other than we’re at the end of a very long season talking about injuries,” Hinch said, “and it’s likely to irritate conservative treatment based on how the season has gone.”
Eduardo Rodriguez joins the Flying Tigers
Left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez (restricted list) is scheduled to play Saturday for Low-A Lakeland at Joker Marchant Stadium. The Flying Tigers will play Dunedin Blue Jays, of the Low-A of the Toronto Blue Jays.
Rodriguez is expected to take three runs and 50 shots.
“It’s hard to get to 45-50 pitches in an A ball when you’re a key player in the league,” Hinch said. “These guys are up there ready to swing. Hopefully we’ll be able to build some volume for him into the A-ball and make sure everything is in order.”
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After Saturday’s start, Rodriguez is on his way to going to Triple-A Toledo for a start at least twice. The Tigers think they can go back to the majors – and bring them back off the restricted list – sometime during the third week of August.
The 29-year-old has been at the Spring Tigers training facility in Lakeland since last Sunday. The club put Rodriguez on the banned list on June 13.
“A minimum of three starts, maybe a maximum of four if he needs it,” Hinch said. “It’s set and ready. Throwed in a couple different sheds with our development team in Lakeland. All systems valid for Saturday.”
Derek Hill picked a new team
The Seattle Mariners claimed defensive back Derek Hill held up the waiver on Friday, after the 26-year-old was set for the job on Monday while playing for Triple-A Toledo. The sailors assigned him to the Triple-A Tacoma.
“We’ve been talking about Derek for the past two years I’ve been here, and I’ve been feeling his contributions here,” Hinch said. “He’s still trying to find his way around as an excellent player, but he can influence the roster. I can see what they’re doing. They’ve had a lot of injuries. And it doesn’t surprise me that they’d have a shot at his skill set and see if he can help an opposing team.”
Hill played 95 games for the Tigers, including 31 in 2022 with a batting average of 0.29, five runs, and 28 strikes in 31 games. For the Mud Chicken, he hit 0.217 with nine walks and 32 strokes in 30 games in 2022.
He drafted Tigers Hill with the 23rd overall pick in 2014.
Michael Pineda throws a balloon
Right-handed Michael Pineda (narrow right triceps) completed his first bowl game on Thursday. The 33-year-old, who has been on the injured list for 15 days since July 24, will likely need to shed more before the Tigers consider sending him for a rehab job.
Pineda threw fast balls and only changes.
He felt good, and that’s a good sign,” Hinch said.
Pineda has a 5.27 ERA with six turns and 23 strokes over 42 degrees in 10 runs starting this season. This is his second assignment on the injured list, the other from May 15 to July 1 due to a fracture of the right middle finger.
Dominican Summer League right-hander Elvin Valerio, 19, has been suspended 60 games without pay for testing positive for performance-enhancing substances. He was one of five MLB players announced the suspension on Friday.
Valerio has been tested positive for Stanozolol and GW501516.
He has a 6.27 ERA with 10 runs and 19 hits over the course of 18⅔ innings in 10 games (four starts). The Tigers signed Valerio on a minor league contract in March 2022 as a free international agent from the Dominican Republic.