May 27th, 2014

Suarez puts on a show for Dombrowski, Leyland

Tigers president/general manager Dave Dombrowski had seen the reports on Eugenio Suarez’s play, but he hadn’t seen him in person since Spring Training. Jim Leyland had, but discounted what he had seen over a cold April weekend at Double-A Erie.

Both spent Wednesday night at Fifth Third Field in Toledo, where Suarez was batting third in his sixth game at Triple-A. Together, they had seats behind home plate to watch Suarez put on a show, possibly his best in the week or so since he was promoted.

“The kid, he’s been highly thought of,” Mud Hens manager Larry Parrish said. “A game like tonight shows you why.”

Suarez fell a triple shy of the cycle in a 3-for-4, three-run, two-RBI performance, but that was just the start of it. His home run off a 94 mph fastball from hard-throwing lefty Enny Romero was a no-doubt drive that ended up on Monroe Street, well beyond the left-field fence. His double off veteran righty Doug Mathis and a single off another lefty went down opposing lines.

His biggest highlight of the night, however, came in the field, where he went deep into the hole did his best Derek Jeter impression on a jumping throw — his momentum carrying him into short left field — to rob Wilson Betemit of a single.

“That,” Parrish said, “was a highlight play.”

Just as important, certainly to Parrish and probably to Tigers brass, was that he made the rest of the plays hit his way, cleanly turning a pair of double plays.

“Not losing the concentration,” he said.

That was the scouting report on Suarez in the past. It’s something Suarez is aware of, which is why he has been doing extra infield work daily and taking the advice of the great Omar Vizquel, his favorite player growing up.

“He had me working hard every day on my defense,” Suarez said before the game. “He already told me keep playing hard, just complete the routine plays, take the outs. That’s what he told me. You have good defense, good hands, so keep working hard every day. He told me that.”

He also understands the importance of the concentration angle.

“We have the conditioning to play every day. We need the mental conditioning,” Suarez said. “So it’s maybe 60 percent mental, the rest physical.”

Much like Nick Castellanos last year, he’s putting his extra work into his defense, and letting his hitting take care of itself. Right now, it’s taking care of him.

After Tuesday’s effort, he’s 10-for-24 (.417) in Triple-A with four doubles, two home runs, five RBIs and five runs scored. Add in his Double-A numbers, and he’s hitting .301 (54-for-179) with 18 doubles, eight homers, 31 runs and 34 RBIs.

“He’s done very well this year,” Dombrowski said before the game. “Everybody has talked well of him. He’s done good since he’s been here, but he’s only been here a short while. He’s done a nice job.”

He has played his way to the verge of the big leagues. It’ll be up to Dombrowski and the rest of the Tigers front office to decide whether and when the 22-year-old gets his shot.

If he has more games like this, he might make his case regardless of what’s going on at the shortstop position in Detroit.

Tuesday’s lineups: Tigers at Athletics

With Sonny Gray on the mound, Rajai Davis takes a seat for J.D. Martinez, while Don Kelly gets the start at third base over Nick Castellanos.

TIGERS (career numbers off Gray)

  1. Ian Kinsler, 2B
  2. Torii Hunter, RF (1-for-7, 2 K’s)
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B (2-for-5, HR, walk, K)
  4. Victor Martinez, DH (2-for-6)
  5. J.D. Martinez, LF
  6. Don Kelly, 3B (2-for-4, walk)
  7. Austin Jackson, CF (0-for-7, 6 K’s)
  8. Alex Avila, C (0-for-3, 2 walks, K)
  9. Andrew Romine, SS (1-for-2)

P: Max Scherzer

ATHLETICS (career numbers vs. Scherzer)

  1. Coco Crisp, CF (5-for-16, double, 2 walks, 5 K’s)
  2. John Jaso, C (1-for-8, walk, 3 K’s)
  3. Josh Donaldson, 3B (1-for-12, triple, 5 K’s)
  4. Brandon Moss, 1B (4-for-16, HR, 3 walks, 7 K’s)
  5. Yoenis Cespedes, LF (4-for-8, double, triple, HR, 2 walks, 2 K’s)
  6. Jed Lowrie, SS (2-for-10, double, HR, K)
  7. Josh Reddick, RF (4-for-14, triple, 8 K’s)
  8. Alberto Callaspo, DH (3-for-16, 2 doubles, 3 walks, 3 K’s)
  9. Eric Sogard, 2B (3-for-7, 2 doubles)

P: Sonny Gray