Akil Baddoo reacts to surprising demotion: ‘I’m a big league player’

DETROIT — A year ago, hot-start Akil Baddoo was the talk of Detroit and the league.

Through 50 at batshe had four doubles, two triples, four home runs and 13 runs.

Its second season was a different story. Thanks to 50 at bats, he has only seven hits. And now he’s heading to Triple-A Toledo.

The Tigers announced the surprising news ahead of Monday’s game. Baddoo spoke briefly with reporters as he cleared his locker.

“You always have to do (the best). It’s unfortunate. I’m going to go out there and get the reps I need and be ready to come back,” he said. ““I feel like I’m the best here. I’m a big league player…I really want to be back where I feel like I belong. It’s the same state of mind (in Toledo): get back as soon as possible.

Baddoo had 13 homers and 18 stolen bases with a .766 OPS (111 OPS+) in 124 games last year and Tigers manager AJ Hinch said he hopes a detour to Toledo can help Baddoo recover. his swing on the rails.

“It was unexpected when we started the year. I’m sure he didn’t expect it. We didn’t expect it. But the reality is that’s where we are,” said Hinch: “We need him to go decompress and straighten up and play every day.

“It could be a short stint. It could be longer. But hopefully he can work on things to be more consistent.

The Tigers currently only have three true outfielders — Austin Meadows, Derek Hill and Robbie Grossman — on the active roster, though utility Willi Castro and backup receiver Eric Haase could also play there.

Hill is the only true center fielder, and the Tigers want to keep him rested given his injury history. This could create some interesting queues. Hinch revealed one of them preemptively: Willi Castro will start at center in Game 1 on Tuesday.

“We can’t expect him to be perfect there,” Hinch said. “He has representatives. He did a bit in the minors. He was here early today.

“We also can’t expect Derek Hill to play every set of every game. It was not productive for his health.

Outfielder Victor Reyes (left quadriceps injury) will begin a rehab assignment in Toledo on Tuesday. His return should help the depth of the club’s outfield. Waiting?

“We’re going to ask our guys to do something a little different while we’re remodeling this, and ask our guys to do their best,” Hinch said. “We feel that we are going to do well”

Why take the step with Baddoo now? Hinch said it was important for him to have regular appearances in Toledo rather than brawling in Detroit.

“Things kinda piled up on him,” Hinch said. “As the at-bats started going south, he wanted to catch up on the next at-bat, and that only made the problem worse.”

Hinch said he would like Baddoo to focus more on contact than chasing home runs.

“He shouldn’t be a 30 percent strike rate guy,” Hinch said. “He should be someone who uses his speed and contact abilities to pressure the defence.”

“Triple-A is going to be a better place for him to fix bugs, work on contact being his friend and not sell himself so much for the perfect pitch.”

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