Tigers prospect atones for strikeouts, error with ninth-inning double
By Alejandro Zúñiga
DETROIT -- Daniel Fields anticipated he'd spend Thursday afternoon in the Tigers' dugout, watching as his club finished a three-game series against the A's at Comerica Park.
Instead, left fielder Yoenis Cespedes was removed after two innings due to flu-like symptoms, giving Fields -- a Detroit native and the son of Minor League hitting coordinator Bruce Fields -- the unexpected opportunity to make his Major League debut in his hometown.
Though the 24-year-old Fields struck out looking in his first two at-bats and committed a fielding error in the fifth inning, he rebounded with a double and scored in the ninth.
"Sometimes you make errors, strike out, but you have to just clear your head and move on to the next thing," Fields said. "All of the guys were just, 'Hey, just put it behind you. You've still got more game to go.' I was able to clear my head and just keep battling. That last at-bat felt good."
Fields, who was sent down to Triple-A Toledo following Detroit's 7-5 loss, understood he was a temporary replacement for Rajai Davis (paternity leave), regardless of his performance. After the outfielder didn't see action on Tuesday or Wednesday, Fields' brother, Aaron, and their mother said they hoped Daniel might earn a spot in the starting lineup for Thursday's afternoon game, but manager Brad Ausmus decided otherwise.
Then, in the first inning, Cespedes began feeling nauseous and lightheaded, so the Tigers turned to Fields, who immediately tried relaying the news to his family from the dugout.
"I didn't know what to think," Fields said. "Just a whole bunch of butterflies, and I was trying to look up and tell my brother, 'Hey, I'm going into the game.' It was great."
Fields was tested moments later on a Billy Butler double hit to the left-center-field gap, and the outfielder bobbled the ball near the fence. In the fifth inning, when Butler hit a line drive that dropped in front of Fields, the ball rolled under Fields' glove as he prepared to throw home in an attempt to catch the lead runner.
And twice, in the fourth and sixth innings, home-plate umpire Jim Joyce called Fields out on strikes -- the latter time with two on and two outs.
"When I first went out there, I definitely had a lot of butterflies going," he said. "First time getting out there and playing. It took a couple innings to get that out of my system."
Fields made up for it in the bottom of the ninth. With one out and the bases empty, Fields hit a ground ball past first baseman Stephen Vogt and into right field, where Josh Reddick was shifted away from the line, allowing Fields to reach second base despite a momentary stumble as he rounded first.
"I'm going to have to tell him he's a non-athlete," Aaron said.
Fields didn't have any issues staying upright when Ian Kinsler drove him home moments later. The loss didn't detract from the experience too much for Fields, who cherished achieving a longtime aspiration.
"That was something I'd been dreaming about since I was a little kid coming to the park with my dad, and being able to come into this clubhouse, and play on that field," Fields said. "For that to finally happen, it was unbelievable."
Alejandro Zúñiga is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ByAZuniga. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.