Tigers send Grayson Greiner back to Toledo, call up Divine Child grad Eric Haase
Detroit — He grew up attending games at Comerica Park and dreaming of wearing the Old English D on his jersey one day.
That day has come for catcher Eric Haase.
"I get chills just thinking about it," said the Dearborn Divine Child product and Livonia resident. "From the minute they said I was traded over here it's been in the back of my mind.
"To be able to put that uniform on today, it's going to be awesome."
The Tigers on Tuesday called Haase up from the alternative training site at Toledo and optioned Grayson Greiner, who has struggled offensively all season.
“Haase has been working really, really hard,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. “We’re giving him an opportunity here. We’re going to activate him and see what he can do.”
Haase, whom the Tigers purchased from the Indians this offseason, has been with the team most of the year serving as the extra catcher on the taxi squad.
“It’s a little different since I’ve had a chance to be around these guys pretty much all year,” said Haase, 27, who played in 19 games over the last two seasons with the Indians. “I’ve been on every single road trip, lots of practices. I feel like the adjustment being with the guys should be pretty seamless.
“I’m just excited to get out there and play a game.”
He has also caught every starting pitcher’s pregame bullpen, warmed up every reliever on the road and has participated in all the pitcher meetings. There isn’t much that’s going to surprise him, except facing actual live pitching.
“That’s been the tough part,” he said. “Luckily, when the team has been home, I’ve been going to Toledo and getting at-bats, as much as I could with the pitching that was still down there. I’ve stayed as sharp as possible.”
Haase showed surprising power in Lakeland, hitting two home runs way beyond the center field batter’s eye. He also stole the show during a pregame batting practice session at Target Field earlier this month. On the last swing of the day, he knocked a ball deep into the third deck.
“I haven’t had a 100 games of wear on my legs,” he said, laughing. “I’m pretty fresh. I really didn’t think anything about it until everyone started yelling. It was the last swing of BP and they made a bigger deal out of it than it was."
Tough pill for Greiner
Haase had a lot of empathy for Greiner, too.
“I’ve been exactly where he’s at for the last three years,” Haase said. “It’s never easy.”
After finishing strong a year ago in September, Greiner couldn’t get unstuck at the plate. He was 6-for-51 with 20 strikeouts.
“He had a couple of good swings but he was struggling,” Gardenhire said. “Hopefully he will go down there and get a little confidence going.”
Haase toggled between Triple-A and the big leagues the last two seasons, and between Double-A and Triple-A the year before that. He can relate to how hard it is to fight through a slump when you don’t get regular at-bats.
“I’ve had a lot of experience doing this throughout my career,” he said. “I’ve been an everyday guy, I’ve been a backup, I’ve had the experience of coming off the IL after two months and trying to play, I’ve played once a week — my career has pretty much been a rollercoaster ride.”
Just as it’s been for Greiner.
“You share a clubhouse with a guy, you are rooting for them,” Haase said. “But all the roster moves are out of our control. Playing time, it’s something that you have to deal with, whatever you are given. All of that is out of your hands and I think we all realize that.
“We’re always pulling for each other. But when I do get an opportunity, what that (other) guy has done before doesn’t matter anymore. That’s got to be my opportunity and vice versa.”
Wither Jake Rogers
The obvious question, with Haase coming up, is what is going on with the club’s top catching prospect Jake Rogers?
“He’s doing OK,” Gardenhire said. “I’m sure he’s frustrated. But Haase has been on the taxi squad the whole time. He’s got experience and we want to take a look at him. We all know where Jake is going to be next year — he’s going to be with us, for sure.
“But we want to see what we have in Haase, that’s what Al (Avila, general manager) was talking about. Also, we want to give Haase a little love and let him see some action. He’s done everything we’ve asked.”
Around the horn
The Tigers were expecting to face Royals lefty Danny Duffy on Tuesday. Instead, they found out several hours before the game that they’d be dealing with right-hander Jakob Junis instead.
Turns out, Duffy missed the team’s flight to Detroit. Gardenhire laughed when he was asked if that presented a problem. The Tigers have five switch-hitters but no natural left-handed hitters. Not much to alter matchup wise.
Royals at Tigers
First pitch: 7:10 p.m. Wednesday, Comerica Park, Detroit
►RHP Brady Singer (2-4, 4.66), Royals: He was four outs away from a no-hitter in his last outing in Cleveland, giving up a single with two outs in the eighth to Austin Hedges. He struck out eight and walked two in eight full innings. In his four previous starts, though, he’d been touched up for 15 runs in 20⅓ innings.
►LHP Tarik Skubal (1-2, 7.27), Tigers: He’s coming off a brutal 67-pitch, two-inning outing in St. Louis. He ended up allowing just three hits, but four walks ended up leading to six runs. That was the follow-up to his strongest outing of the season, holding the Twins to a run in six innings at Target Field.