As Pirates starter Chad Kuhl tossed the ball from Candelario's first hit as a Tiger, a sixth-inning pinch-hit single, first-base coach Omar Vizquel pretended to hand the ball to Candelario before tossing it into the dugout for safekeeping. The young corner infielder had a half-dozen hits with the Cubs before being traded last week for Justin Wilson and Alex Avila, so it wasn't his first big league hit.
Depending on what happens from here, Tuesday could be the first of many Candelario cuts as a Tiger. He made the most of his brief glimpse, providing something to remember in an otherwise forgettable loss at PNC Park.
"We were happy for him, congratulating him for his first hit as a Tiger," manager Brad Ausmus said.
Ausmus made it clear when Candelario was brought up that this was a depth move, not an audition. Candelario entered Tuesday's game as a pinch-hitter when the pitcher's spot came up to lead off the sixth inning.
Candelario laced a single to right off a 1-2 breaking ball from Kuhl, starting a three-hit rally that matched the Tigers' hit total for their previous 14 innings in the series. The resulting three runs matched their scoring total from their previous 22 innings.
"He threw me a curveball right there, and I put a good swing on it," Candelario said. "When you put a swing on it, something's going to happen."
The inning ended with Nicholas Castellanos' groundout, so Candelario stayed in the game in the double-switch and finished out the contest at third. Whether the Tigers make a similar shift long-term at third will wait until later this season or next, but it was an encouraging first appearance for Candelario, who grounded out leading off the eighth against George Kontos.
"I'm just grateful for the opportunity," Candelario said. "I was trying to make something happen. Whenever they need me, I will be there. You have to be ready for any situation."
Barring an injury, his next opportunity likely won't happen until rosters expand in September. By then, the Tigers could be in a clearer position to get a look at the future and make some evaluations, and taking a longer stretch with prospects. At the very least, Candelario would be in line to get a start or two at third or first. He also can play the outfield, albeit mainly in a pinch.
For now, this was more of an introductory stint.
"I kind of know the guys. These two days I was here, I was learning about them and how they take care of business, how they take care of their job and be focused every time in the game," Candelario said. "Because you never know: You get a pinch-hit or whatever, like today. You have to be able to be ready for whatever opportunity."