McGehee's 4-hit night a testament to determination

McGehee's 4-hit night a testament to determination

ARLINGTON -- This is why Casey McGehee spent four months in Toledo.

"Every win's important," McGehee said after his four-hit game in Saturday night's 2-0 Tigers win at Texas. "And to be able to do anything to help win, that's where the satisfaction lies. This isn't the time of year for personal accolades, look at this, look at that. It's all about wins and losses."

It's also about opportunities.

He could've signed somewhere else at the end of Spring Training, having earned an opt-out when he signed a Minor League deal around the start of Spring Training, and shopped his eight years of Major League experience. He could've asked out when the Tigers designated him for assignment in June after calling him up for one pinch-hit appearance in Kansas City.

He stuck around at Triple-A and waited for his time. He wasn't wishing for injury, certainly nothing like the fractured thumb that befell tigers third baseman Nick Castellanos. He was just waiting for a chance to carry over what he was doing at Toledo, where he was second in the International League in hitting.

"I'd be lying to you if I told you there weren't days that were tough," McGehee said. "I can't praise [Toledo manager] Lloyd [McClendon] and [coaches] Bull [Durham] and Jeff Pico enough for the way they handled it. But at the same time, I have to give my dad a lot of credit, too. Some of those tough times, he'd say, 'Hey, man, you signed up for this. You knew this was a possibility, and you need to see it through. You've never quit anything in your life, and this is no different. At the end of the year, you can re-evaluate, but shutting it down or being frustrated and being a [jerk], that's not an option."

It took until mid-August for McGehee to get more than a passing look for a big league role. Yet, when that happened, manager Brad Ausmus insisted he had no doubt McGehee could handle it. While others around the league, and more than a few fans in Detroit, wondered who the Tigers could grab off the August trade market, the Tigers insisted this is why they had signed -- and yes, stashed -- McGehee as insurance.

"This is the best way I can describe Casey McGehee: Despite the fact that he's been in Toledo all year, Casey McGehee looks like a big league player," Ausmus said. "He's been in the big leagues. He can handle himself in the batter's box. He can handle himself at third base. He looks like a big league player. I was never concerned about Casey McGehee."

Neither was McGehee.

"If I didn't believe I was a big leaguer," McGehee said, "I wouldn't have taken a job this year. I wouldn't have continued to play if I didn't believe I could still do it."

And with Saturday's four-hit game, McGehee is 9-for-26 since the callup. He has at least one hit in five of the six games he has started. It's not the same power hitting Castellanos had been posting, but McGehee has made the transition about as seamless as he possibly could.

"Being that I have played against most of these guys, with some of them, I felt a little bit of familiarity," he said. "I definitely respect what they do, and hopefully they at least respect the fact that I can come in and not be overwhelmed. They've made it easy. These guys have been great. They've treated me like I've been here since Opening Day. They made it easy to come in and just take care of your job and that's enough."

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. 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.