Shortstop doubles, makes impressive diving catch in loss to Indians
By Alejandro Zúñiga and Jason Beck
DETROIT -- Knowing a callup from Triple-A Toledo to the Tigers might be imminent, Dixon Machado was prepared for any scenario. The shortstop had prepared two suitcases -- one to take home, and one in case his services were needed in Detroit.
When Tigers shortstop Jose Iglesias left Thursday night's loss to Kansas City with a non-displaced fracture of his right middle finger -- an injury that will sideline him for at least two weeks, and possibly the rest of the season -- Machado was pulled from the Mud Hens' game and informed of the promotion. The rookie got his second stint with Detroit this year off to a solid start with a double and a diving play in the field during an 8-1 loss to the Indians on Friday.
"Machy looked good," manager Brad Ausmus said. "He had a real solid year in Toledo. We always had known he's a solid defender. He started hitting the last couple years. Nice double tonight, for sure, and he'll probably get quite a bit more playing time now with Iglesias being out with a broken finger."
Machado was expected to join the Tigers regardless after Toledo's season ends Monday.
"You are always waiting for [a callup]," said Machado. "But you never know. You just have to wait the call. I was just playing, tried to finish strong over there."
Machado won't battle any first-start or first-hit jitters -- he took care of both of those over three games with the Tigers in late May. The callup will, however, allow him to demonstrate that a consistent year at the plate with the Mud Hens can translate into success in the big leagues.
The 23-year-old shortstop slashed .261/.313/.332 this season in what was his first year at the Triple-A level.
"I think he's probably more comfortable with the environment -- has some familiarity to it," Ausmus said. "He's also seen the game is essentially the same. The skill level is obviously a little higher, but a lot of guys come up, get a taste of it, and you go back thinking, 'I can play there.'"
Machado credited his diving play in part to infield coach Omar Vizquel, who shifted him up the middle against Jason Kipnis. From there, he said, the ball was hit close enough that all he had to do was react.
It did not surprise catcher Bryan Holaday, his teammate in Toledo.
"I've seen him a lot this year," Holaday said. "He's made some unbelievable plays defensively, and some of the things he does with the bat really surprise you too. He's hit some home runs this year that you wouldn't think a little guy like him could hit out. He's an impressive player."
He'll get a chance to showcase that down the stretch. It could mean a chance to stick in the Majors next year as a utility infielder, or it could create a market for a trade in the winter.
That's not his concern at the moment.
"I just want to try to do good every time I go out there," Machado said. "That's it, as simple as that."
Alejandro Zúñiga is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ByAZuniga. Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.