DETROIT – Detroit Tigers shortstop Javier Baez was benched in the middle of Thursday’s game after making a bad mistake on the base paths.
Baez began Thursday night’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays hitting just .100 (4 for 40) on the season, with four singles, three walks, and eight strikeouts.
Manager A.J. Hinch dropped him to sixth in the starting lineup, and Baez appeared to respond well, smashing a ball off the left-field fence in his first at-bat.
But Baez didn’t run hard out of the batter’s box, apparently believing he had hit a home run. He still made it to second base safely, but there’s a chance he might been able to stretch it into a triple because of the way the ball ricocheted away from the left fielder.
That’s not what got Baez benched, though. The very next batter, Akil Baddoo, hit a lazy line drive to center field that was clearly going to be caught. Baez took off running around third base, but there was only one out in the inning.
Blue Jays outfielder Daulton Varsho caught the ball and tossed it to second base for an inning-ending double play.
Baez stayed in the game for the bottom of the second inning, but when the Tigers took the field in the bottom of the third, Nick Maton had moved over to shortstop and Jonathan Schoop entered the game at third base.
The Baez experiment has not gone well for the Tigers since they handed him a six-year, $140 million contract last offseason. He was a below-average hitter and led MLB in errors last season, and he’s off to an even worst start in 2023.
There’s a player option for the final four years of the deal this offseason, so Baez could decide to become a free agent instead of taking the remaining $98 million owed by the Tigers from 2024-2027.