Javy Báez's first rehab appearance turned out better than Tigers fans might think

Detroit Tigers v Boston Red Sox
Detroit Tigers v Boston Red Sox / Winslow Townson/GettyImages

When Javier Báez went onto the Tigers IL with lumbar spine inflammation, fans were more relieved than anything. It's never good that a player's hurt, but it didn't seem severe, and at least we'd get a break from getting really mad at Báez for his egregious swings and misses.

That's not the kind of reaction that an injury to your team's highest-paid player should provoke, but alas. Before he got hurt, Báez was batting .080 with 10 strikeouts over his last seven games. It feels impossible for the calls to get him out of Detroit could get even louder, but somehow they have.

The shortstop substitutes haven't exactly been much better. Quadruple-A Tiger Ryan Kreidler has batted .147 with a .472 OPS since he came up in Báez's stead. However, there were some signs that Kreidler might stay for a while, with manager AJ Hinch saying that Báez's rehab assignment would be "extensive," which sort of read as a way of keeping him in the minors under the guise of recovery.

Whether or not it actually turns out to be extensive, Báez made his first start as the Toledo Mud Hens' DH on Tuesday night before he gets back to shortstop later this week. He got three plate appearances, and they actually went a little better than anyone would've thought.

Javy Báez singles, scores, and even walks in first game of Triple-A rehab assignment

Báez stepped up in the bottom of first with Parker Meadows on second after a single and a steal, and then Báez did something in his first turn at the plate in three weeks: he walked. To be fair, the four pitches from Clippers pitcher Randy Labaut were pretty awful, and the one strike he got on Báez was borderline. So Báez took his free base, only his sixth on the entire season. He came around to score on an Anthony Bemboom single.

He picked up a hit in the very next inning with a single to right field (with two outs!), then popped out in the fourth before being replaced his next turn up. With just that one game in the books, his rehab assignment stats are thus: .500 batting average with a 1.167 OPS.

Báez has two more scheduled appearances that we know about, but he will almost certainly need more, and he did get lucky on Tuesday night with a very bad start for Labaut. A pretty good first rehab appearance is nothing to get excited about, but it will be fun to watch as Báez progresses through Triple-A and see if he can stand up to some good Triple-A pitching.