The Detroit Tigers have been desperate for productive left-handed hitters.
Outfielder Akil Baddoo, a left-handed hitter with a 14.3% walk rate, returned from the injured list Friday and started in left field for the series opener against the Toronto Blue Jays at Comerica Park.
Riley Greene, another lefty hitting outfielder, is slated to return from the injured list Saturday and start for the Tigers as the designated hitter.
“It’s great to have him back,” Tigers manager AJ Hinch said of Baddoo, hitting .231 with six steals in seven attempts. “He’s ready to go. He’s an energy provider in the dugout, in the clubhouse and in the stands. Everybody loves when Akil plays, and certainly, he can create a lot of run-scoring opportunities.”
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The Tigers will be cautious with Baddoo’s in-game workload heading into the All-Star break. He is expected to play two of the three games against the Blue Jays, which concludes the unofficial first half of the season.
The 24-year-old suffered the right quad injury June 9 while running to first base. He slammed his helmet to the ground and walked back to the dugout with athletic trainer Ryne Eubanks.
“That was the first time I’ve had a quad injury like that,” Baddoo said. “That’s why I threw my helmet down. I want to play every day, stay healthy, be productive and help my team win. It was a feeling I’ve never felt before, but I feel better now, and I’m good to go.”
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In the 2023 season, Baddoo has three home runs, 24 walks and 34 strikeouts in 50 games. He has a .341 on-base percentage and a .684 on-base-plus-slugging percentage.
This year marks his third season in the big leagues.
“We’re getting more balanced as the days come,” Hinch said.
Baddoo had a .294 batting average and a .392 on-base percentage across 24 games in May, but he struggled through seven games in June before suffering the leg injury, hitting .048 (1-for-21) with a .200 on – base percentage.
He hit .167 (2-for-12) with two walks and five strikeouts in four games with Triple-A Toledo during his rehab assignment.
“It’s a step in the right direction,” Baddoo said of several players returning from the injured list. “Greene feels good, and we’ll have him coming back, as well, so that’s something we can carry to the All-Star break and get back going where we started in the beginning of the year.”
See you Saturday
Greene showed up in the Tigers’ clubhouse Friday after three games with Triple-A Toledo during his rehab assignment. He will start Saturday against the Blue Jays in his return from a stress reaction in his left fibula.
The 22-year-old finished 6-for-12 (.500) with one double, one home run, zero walks and two strikeouts. He went 5-for-5 in the second game and launched a solo home run in the third game.
“I really missed all the guys,” Greene said. “I feel like it’s not the same being away from them. I’m excited to be back with the boys, be in the dugout and have as much fun as possible.”
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He hit .296 with five home runs and an .805 on-base-plus-slugging percentage in 52 games before injury.
Greene showcased himself as one of the best players in baseball across 25 games in May, hitting .365 with three homers, 12 walks and 27 strikeouts. His batting average ranked second in the American League for that month.
He hasn’t played since May 30.
“It went good,” Greene said of his three-game rehab assignment. “I was happy to see some of those guys (with the Mud Hens). I haven’t seen them in a while, so it was pretty cool to see those guys. I feel pretty good.”
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Tigers’ Akil Baddoo returns; Riley Greene set for Saturday