Tuiasosopo's role may expand beyond pinch-hitting, platooning
A minor-league free agent signed over the offseason, Matt Tuiasosopo has done everything asked of him, including pinch hit. And done it well.
His two-run pinch-hit double in the sixth inning was just the latest example.
He’s now 3-for-10 with six RBI in pinch-hit situations, his three hits all for extra bases — two doubles and a home run.
“I just thank God for every opportunity that I’m getting. Skip’s doing a great job giving me opportunities and I try to prepare as hard as a can to mentally be prepared for the pinch-hit at-bats. It feels good to come through in those situation, but ultimately if we lose it kind of takes away from the good things,” he said, admitting he studies up to be prepared for the eventuality. “Watch a ton of video; watch a ton of video about the lefties, the pitches that they’re throwing, what they’re looking like and how they’re facing right-handed hitters. I try to watch film the night before for left-handed starters and I try to watch video on the left-handed bullpen guys. I just try to get as much video as I can.”
The six RBI are the most since Frank Catalanotto had six in 1999. The rest of the Tigers are 5-for-26 with one triple six RBI.
“You were trying to get a couple of them right there, maybe even run into one and get three of them,” Leyland said. “We got a couple.”
Included on the roster as a platoon player for left field, who was expected to primarily play against left-handed pitching, that role may expand.
Now hitting .338, Tuiasosopo may be the beneficiary of Andy Dirks’ struggles, in terms of more playing time in the outfield. Dirks finished the game 1 for 5 and is hitting .208 in June.
Will Tuiasosopo take some of Dirks’ starts?
“That’s a great question. ... Since Dirks has been struggling, then you might consider putting him in there a little bit more. I think that’s a very fair point. That’s the kind of stuff that I think is legitimate. I don’t have any problem with that at all. I don’t think we’re ready to do that just yet,” Leyland said before the game.
“If somebody doesn’t get going, then you play him a little bit more, or do something else. I’m not talking about anybody in particular, but I’m talking about any player.”