There is much contempt between Detroit Tigers short stop Javier Báez and Kansas City Royals reliever Amir Garrett.
The beef continued on Saturday.
The rivalry dates back to May 2019, when Báez did not approve of Garrett’s strikeout celebration. Báez, then with the Chicago Cubs, and Garrett, then with the Cincinnati Reds, looked at each other and had to be separated.
“Uniform change hasn’t contributed much to that competitiveness between the two,” Tigers manager AJ Hinch said afterwards. Saturday’s 4-3 win† “They’re both very competitive guys, and neither of them have forgotten their past.”
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On Saturday, Garrett celebrated by throwing his hands in the air and calling for attention after striking out Riley Greene who watched a fastball under the strike zone to end the sixth inning. Garrett yelled at the Tigers’ dugout on his way back to his dugout.
Báez was on deck during Greene’s at bat and didn’t hesitate to react. He barked at Garrett from the top step of the dugout, right next to Hinch. After Báez took the field, the two continued to shout from a distance.
“He can do whatever he wants,” Baez said on Saturday. ‘I do not have anything. That’s part of his game and he knows my game.’
From the infield, Báez told Garrett – standing in the Royals dugout – to ask manager Mike Matheny if he could pitch the seventh inning. Báez, eager to face Garrett, instead faced righthanded reliever Wyatt Mills to start the seventh. He struckout four pitches.
“He didn’t ask for it,” said Baez.
But Garrett said he had asked to stay in the game.
“How would he know?” Garrett told reporters Sunday morning† “I’ve asked (Matheny) to go out again. … We’re going to see them again. I’m going to see him again. It might not be today. You never know. I sure did ask though.”
What happened on Saturday was just the latest heated interaction between the two players.
In May 2021, Báez jumped out of the Cubs’ dugout and headed for the mound to defend his teammates. Garrett had yelled at the Cubs again, this time after knocking out Anthony Rizzo.
The benches and bullpens have been cleaned up.
In July 2021, Garrett held a broom sweep on the field after the Reds swept the Cubs. Later that month, Báez came off the bench to face Garrett in the bottom of the ninth inning with the bases loaded.
Báez walked off to midfield on the first pitch, taunted and mocked Garrett by moving his bat in a sweeping motion as if it were a broom, even though the Cubs didn’t sweep the Reds. (They lost the next two games in the series.)
After many antics, Báez – halfway through first base – threw his bat to the ground when Garrett left the field.
In 2022, the Báez-Garrett rivalry will be one to watch with both players in the American League Central. The Tigers and Royals, including Sunday’s game, have 14 games left.
Báez is 4-for-8 with three homeruns, seven RBI’s, one walk and two strikeouts in his career against Garrett.
“That energy that happened between innings with me and the other man allows us to focus and compete a bit more,” Báez said after Saturday’s situation. “We struggled a lot, but at the same time we are fighting for the last out.”
More than once
The Tigers called out righthander Garrett Hill for his MLB debut in Game 1 of Monday’s doubleheader. He replaced right-wing Rony García, who was placed on the 15-day injured list for right shoulder pain.
Monday’s outing won’t be Hill’s only start.
He gets three starts before the All-Star break.
“Being in the (strike) zone is the biggest part,” Hill said. “You can’t defend the walk. Just attack. If they hit it, they hit it. More often than not, if you make it to the field, you get outs. I’m not chasing strikeouts per se. I’m just trying fast get zeros in three throws, four throws or less.”
After the break, the Tigers will reassess the starting rotation, which currently includes Tarik Skubal, Michael Pineda, Beau Brieske and Garrett Hill. Alex Faedo is the 27th player for doubleheaders as the organization keeps an eye on his innings.
Hill will be the 14th starting pitcher used by the Tigers.
In 2022, Hill registered a 3.23 ERA with 25 walks and 98 strikeouts in 69⅔ innings in 15 starts for Double-A Erie (seven starts) and Triple-A Toledo (eight starts). The 26-year-old is the Tigers’ number 23 prospect, according to MLB pipeline†
“He’s been pretty good lately,” Hinch said. “A few starts ago they had scaled him down in volume because he fits in the same category as the guys here: Faedo and Brieske and young pitchers. He’d scaled down to starts in three innings and pitched really well in his last few outings. “
Robbie Grossman is sitting again
For the second game in a row, outfielder Robbie Grossman was on the bench. The Tigers started on Saturday and Sunday with Riley Greene in midfield, Victor Reyes in left field and Willi Castro in right field.
Grossman is 0-for-10 with a sacrifice fly and seven strikeouts against righthander Brady Singer, who took the mound for the Royals on Sunday. Left-handed Kris Bubic started the game on Saturday.
“Love the way Victor waved the bat yesterday,” Hinch said. “Willi was very good at right field and got on base. Probably not a great day to take Riley out of the lineup. As it all went, it’s only a few days off.”
Grossman will play both games in Monday’s doubleheader against the Cleveland Guardians. He hits .212 with two home runs, 28 walks and strikeouts 72 in 60 games this season, as well as a .315 percentage on base and the worst .286 slugging percentage of his career.
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Javier Baez vs. Amir Garrett beef continues, and it sure is fun