Detroit Tigers outfielder Victor Reyes emerged from the clubhouse and into the dugout. Cloaked in a hoodie and athletic shorts, he sat down in the dugout. He had just been placed on the 10-day injured list with a right groin strain — ending his 2021 season.
Despite the injury, Reyes left a positive impression on manager AJ Hinch and general manager Al Avila with important offseason decisions looming. Dating back to Aug. 5, the former Rule 5 draft pick was hitting .333 with three home runs and 16 RBIs over his past 39 games.
“What helped me during the season was making adjustments,” Reyes said Sunday. “When I was sent down to Triple-A (Toledo), it helped me a lot to get back my rhythm. When I got back to the majors (on July 17), I trusted myself.”
An opportunity to finish strong was cut short in Saturday’s 5-1 win over the Kansas City Royals. He felt tightness in his groin when making a catch in center field on Salvador Perez’s line drive in the fourth inning. Before the top of the sixth, the Tigers removed him from the game.
Because the Tigers have eight games remaining, Reyes won’t return to the lineup until at least the 2022 season.
“We’ll see how significant it is,” Hinch said. “But it’s significant enough where he can’t make it back. … I feel bad for Victor. He really played well at the end and was starting to push into more and more playing time. He still capped a nice comeback year based on how he started.”
The 26-year-old finished his fourth MLB season with a .258 batting average, five home runs, 22 RBIs, eight walks and 55 strikeouts over 76 games.
His turnaround came after a woeful stretch to start the year, beginning with his late arrival to spring training before squeezing onto the Opening Day roster. He hit .183 with two home runs, six RBIs, four walks and 27 strikeouts over 37 games, leading to a pair of demotions to the minor leagues.
But Reyes bounced back, a product of an improved plan and swing mechanics. He began studying more about tendencies of the opposite pitcher. He also timed up his swing with a more relaxed approach — keeping the bat rested on his shoulder to avoid unnecessary movement — until he was ready to take a hack.
“As soon as I got more trust in myself and more confidence, it helped me to have better numbers and perform better on the field,” Reyes said. “I’m trying to keep that same mindset for the offseason so I can be ready for spring training.”
He went 8-for-13 (.615) with two doubles in his final four games.
Reyes hopes to play at least one month for Leones del Caracas in the Venezuelan Winter League this offseason. He hasn’t competed in winter ball since before the 2019 season but thinks the additional at-bats could smooth his transition into spring training in February.
“What he’s going to miss out on this week is really capping his year of contributing,” Hinch said. “We want our guys to finish strong. It’s really difficult this week when you’re eliminated (from the playoffs), everyone is making plans or packing up their locker, we only have two home games. The more that you can just use the games as the competition and win the competition, the better.
“Victor and others have been pretty good at that so far, and we’re not going to forget that as we move into next season.”
Short joins to finish season
To replace Reyes on the roster, the Tigers called up infielder Zack Short from Triple-A Toledo.
Short has played 57 games for the Tigers this season, after making his MLB debut in April, and 46 games for the Mud Hens. In the big leagues, he carries a .147 batting average, six home runs, 20 RBIs, 20 walks and 57 strikeouts.
“He’s a tough kid,” Hinch said. “He’s had to go through a lot. You look up at the scoreboard, the numbers aren’t all pretty, but he’s played better than they indicate. He can contribute at the major-league level at some point.”
At the Triple-A level, Short hit .236 with nine home runs, 29 RBIs, 33 walks and 47 strikeouts. Short provides above-average defense at shortstop but hasn’t stuck in the majors because of his inability to make contact at a consistent rate.
“We’ll see how much he plays,” Hinch said. “He’s a very reliable defense, and we’ll get him in there a couple times.”
Evan Petzold is a sports reporter at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold. Read more on the Detroit Tigers and sign up for our Tigers newsletter.
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Tigers OF Victor Reyes out for season with right groin strain
Source: Yahoo Sports