By Will Burchfield
Nicholas Castellanos came off the field in the 8th inning, upset he had just been removed from the game, slammed his helmet into the helmet rack in the Tigers dugout and watched it ricochet into Miguel Cabrera’s face.
Not exactly the high note of the Tigers’ 4-0 win over the Angels on Wednesday night.
Those around Cabrera froze, unsure of what had happened and how to respond. Castellanos quickly put his arm around Cabrera to apologize, diffusing the tension in the dugout.
In the Tigers clubhouse afterward, Cabrera wore a shiner under his left eye. He said he was fine. Asked if he felt it was an accident, he said, “Whatever you wanna call it. It’s how my season’s going right now.”
Then he laughed.
Indeed, Cabrera can’t seem to catch a break in the early going. He’s hitting .275 with an .812 OPS, numbers far below his career norms, despite making consistently hard contact at the plate.
The incident wasn’t a good look for Castellanos, who just moments ago had singled to extend his hitting streak to six games.
Said Brad Ausmus, “Nick’s a competitive guy, he wants to run the bases. It was my call to put (Andrew) Romine in there at the time. (Castellanos) was upset that he got pinch run for because of his competitive nature.”
Ausmus said he addressed the matter with Castellanos after the game. The skipper was far from concerned.
“People throw their helmet in baseball all the time,” he said.
Ausmus lifted Castellanos from the game so that the defensively-superior Romine could play third base in the ninth inning. The timing of the move obviously didn’t sit well with Castellanos.
“He’s actually a decent base runner, but the fact of the matter is that Romine was gonna play third and Romine might be our best base runner. So if I’m going to make the move I might as well make the move right there, even though it could be a marginal plus on the base running side,” Aumus said.