Righty Farmer appointed Tigers' 26th man for doubleheader
By Fabian Ardaya
CHICAGO -- John Hicks has only squatted behind the dish in the big leagues for the Tigers for one inning. He should see a much bigger workload than that in coming days.
The 27-year-old catcher/first baseman was called up Friday from Triple-A Toledo. Hicks was slated to start at first base and bat eighth in Friday's game vs. the White Sox. He will likely start behind the plate for Saturday's doubleheader against Chicago.
Hicks, who was optioned to the Minors on Monday after a three-day stint with the big league club, was recalled after James McCann -- who has received the bulk of the starts at catcher this season -- sustained a laceration to his left hand in Thursday's loss in Houston and was subsequently placed on the 10-day disabled list.
Hicks primarily played first base during his first few stints in the Majors this season, collecting 11 hits in 27 plate appearances. Even during his short return to the Minors, Hicks saw time at first base and in right field before starting behind the plate on Thursday.
With a doubleheader looming, the Tigers will need Hicks to spell Alex Avila behind the plate. Hicks could see a familiar face in his start, with Buck Farmer serving as his battery mate. Farmer was also recalled from Triple-A Toledo on Friday, taking the 26th active roster spot granted to teams playing doubleheaders.
"I caught Buck last year, I've caught him a little this year and I kind of know what he wants to do," Hicks said. "That helps both of us, with the two of us having that comfort level with each other."
Farmer is 1-3 with a 4.12 ERA in nine Minor League starts this season, and he will make his season debut in the Majors to open Saturday's twin bill. Hicks has caught three of those Minors starts, in which Farmer has posted a 3.79 ERA.
Saturday will be Farmer's ninth career big league start. He has a 6.84 ERA in 32 career Major League appearances.
Saturday would be Hicks' 11th career start at catcher in the big leagues and his first since he was with Seattle in 2015. He acknowledged that catching in the Majors is much different than his 380 career Minor League starts at the position, mostly due to the abundance of information at his disposal.
"Most of the stuff down there is just word of mouth," Hicks said. "We'll bounce ideas off of each other and have meetings and put all our input in, and it's all done right there. Here, there's a sheet with scouting reports, there's video on each hitter and I can look at different pitches. You don't want to overload, but it's awesome to have all that."
Saturday's doubleheader includes a makeup of the White Sox-Tigers matchup that was rained out on April 5 and was originally supposed to be played on Friday. However, the doubleheader was moved to Saturday due to projected rain in the forecast.
Fabian Ardaya is a reporter for MLB.com based in Chicago who covered the Tigers on Friday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.