Spencer Turkelson, captain of the 2020 Detroit Tigers’ first-placed team, raised his racquet over his head.
Then the 22-year-old pushed the wood into the ground.
His racket exploded into two pieces, with the smaller, broken part released near the home console. The larger piece fell to Turkelson in front of the house as he ran to first base.
“I’m really good with that,” manager AJ Hinch said of Torkelson’s frustration shown Tuesday afternoon in front of 13,844 fans at Comerica Park. “If it doesn’t come out at some point, it might boil over a bit.”
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The moment the bats broke as she came out of sloppy territory in the fifth inning of Game 2 double-headed Tuesday against the Oakland Athletics, with 25-year-old right-hand man Adrian Martinez on the hill in his MLB debut.
Torkelson went in on Wednesday without a hitch in his last 11 games, hitting .059 (2 for 35) with three runs and 15 hits in his last 11 games.
As for his rookie season, 27 games, Torkelson has a batting average of .155, one double, three home runs, eight RBIs, 12 walks and 33 strikes. The percentage of base plus slow is 0.549.
“From a confidence standpoint, I think he’s fine,” Hench said. “From the point of view of frustration, I think he’s growing… He expects a lot from himself. I think the hardest thing is getting him to realize he doesn’t have to be perfect. He doesn’t have to do everything. He doesn’t have to cover all the ground. We have to move the ball. forward more steadily.
The Tigers will not ship Torkelson to Triple-A Toledo for reset during the current home, which ends Sunday, and should see favorable confrontations against a few left-handed bowlers when the Tigers travel to St. Petersburg, Florida, for a three-game series with Tampa Bay Rays, starting Monday at Tropicana Field.
But if Torkelson wants to avoid demotion after that, he must adapt and achieve success on the board. The Tigers are unsatisfied, but are patient with the organization’s higher expectations.
“It’s tough,” Hinch said. “It all depends on the individual.” “At the moment, we feel he is still competitive.”
Certain traits and attitudes have earned Torkelson longer – but not infinitely – in his first major league assignment. He’s an above-average defender at first base and completes an improved playing field, with Jaimer Candelario in third, Javier Baez in short position and Jonathan Schaup in second.
He also has a calm demeanor, for the most part, and always shows a positive attitude. He’s keen to develop as a player too, based on his constructive interactions with Hinch, batting coach Scott Culpo and assistant batting coach Mike Heisman.
“I don’t think it’s shaky, which is key,” Hench said. “We have to find that fine line between his push and not accepting the lack of performance. I trust he still gets the hit every time he stands up.”
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Torkelson’s walking rate of 12.2% is encouraging advice from his first 27 games, but his 33.7% batting rate is among the worst in baseball. He has a first-class chase rate of 20.9%, which means he rarely swings court outside of his strike zone. His discipline is considered in elite plates.
Problem: Torkelson misses fastballs (and everything else) inside the strike zone.
His swing decisions are still good,” Hinch said. “If anything, he’s trying to hit everything, and that as a junior player is a recipe for struggle. If you’re trying to hit everything and consistently hit nothing, that’s a bad combination.”
Torkelson played 40 games for Triple-A in Toledo last season, recording .238 with 11 home runs, 23 walks and 36 strikes. It hit .312 in 31 games for High-A West Michigan and .263 in 50 games for Double-A Erie.
He was not commissioned to wear a Mud Hens jersey in 2022.
“I think we can take a lot of pressure on him if everyone starts going like Jimmer (Candelario) and like (Jonathan) Schop,” Hinch said. “Having our guys around him hit, then the focus won’t be on him, and he can continue to learn at that level.”
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