Tigers' Baez benched by Hinch after baserunning gaffe
Detroit Tigers shortstop Javier Baez was pulled from Thursday's game against the Toronto Blue Jays by manager A.J. Hinch after a second-inning baserunning gaffe.
When Akil Baddoo flew out to center field with one out in the top of the second, Baez - who was on second base - forgot how many outs there were and immediately took off toward third. After realizing his mistake, he stopped in frustration and made no attempt to get back, resulting in him being easily doubled off.
Television cameras then caught Baez and Hinch having a conversation in the tunnel following the inning, before the infielder went into the clubhouse with an untucked jersey.
The miscue came moments after Baez failed to hustle out of the box on a base hit, and had to settle for a double.
Jonathan Schoop took his spot in the lineup and played third base, while Nick Maton moved to shortstop.
"My mind is everywhere right now," Baez explained postgame, according to Evan Petzold of the Detroit Free Press. "I'm just trying to focus on my hitting and my timing. The only reason I lost the count of the outs, it was because I was hitting sixth. I thought I was the third batter in that inning. That's the only reason."
Baez added that he and Hinch were "obviously on the same page about the decision" to remove him from the game.
This isn't the first time Baez's baserunning miscues have drawn the ire of his manager. In 2021, while playing for the Chicago Cubs, he was benched by David Ross following a similar play on a fly ball. That benching came during a rough stretch for both the Cubs and Baez, similar to how he and the Tigers have started this season.
"Anybody can make a mistake. At this point, the way we're playing, and the way I'm playing, it's obviously going to be worse," Baez said. "If I'm hot and I have seven homers and I make that same mistake, I would have stayed in the game. But I got no excuses."
Baez was one of several Tigers players who had some misadventures on the basepaths during the three-game set at Rogers Centre. Hinch called out his whole team postgame, saying that he'd already spoken to other players about their miscues privately.
"Javy happened to be the runner that made the big mistake where I made the move, but it's a message to our whole team that we've got to clean that up," Hinch said, according to Jason Beck of MLB.com.
The skipper added that Baez will be back in the starting lineup on Friday against the San Francisco Giants.
Baez is off to a miserable start in 2023, hitting .122/.182/.146 through 12 games. His double on Thursday was his first extra-base hit of the season.
The two-time All-Star is in the second season of a six-year, $140-million deal with Detroit.