Tigers Catcher Dreamt of Being a Dodger

Detroit Tigers catcher Dustin Garneau is doing something this weekend that he doesn’t get to do often: he is sleeping in his own bed.

The reserve catcher grew up in Los Angeles, precisely the San Pedro area. He’s since moved down the highway to Orange County.

He’s the only current member of the Tiger team from southern California, a longtime baseball hotbed renowned for producing scores of big-leaguers over several generations.

Garneau said, “I grew up a Dodgers fan and would come to games all the time, as a kid I remember watching Mike Piazza and all those guys. That was my dream to be a Dodger when I grew up.”

Garneau eventually become a Los Angeles/Anaheim Angel in 2019, so he came pretty close. He’s also had the chance to play a couple of matches in storied Dodger Stadium.

Garneau said, “It’s one of the best places to play in the game: The atmosphere, the fans, the speaker system, everything here, it could just be a regular Tuesday night and there’s a packed house with 55,000 fans.”

The 34-year-old Garneau, who was named in the picks for the MLB games, has started only three of the Tigers’ 19 matches and logged only 9 plate appearances this term. To a particular extent, that was very much expected. He’s the third catcher on the team roster, offering depth behind Eric Haase and Tucker Barnhart, who frequently play outfield.

But Garneau will is at the center of a roster decision the Tigers have to make in the next couple of hours. There’s even a possibility that this weekend’s trip to his hometown could be his last as a member of the Dodgers team.

After Sunday’s encounter, teams must drop their active squad from 28 to 26 players.

The twenty-six-man squad is the norm. Teams were handed a few extra players in the first month of the campaign due to the shortened spring training.

Originally, the league’s plan was to cap those 26-man squads at 13 pitches. But that requirement has been pushed further back another month.

Meaning the Tigers, who presently have 14 position players and about 14 pitchers, have three key options:

1. The option to cut two pitchers: This scenario is the least possible. On Tuesday, the Tigers will have a punishing stretch in the routine that includes 18 games in 17 days. They will want protection in the bullpen.

2. Cut two position players: This scenario would possibly be bad news for Garneau, as it’s difficult to imagine the Tigers going to a 3-man bench that includes two catchers, even if one of them could play a bit of outfield.

3. Cut one position player and one pitcher: This scenario is the most possible because it’s the least disruptive in the short term. Willi Castro appears the likeliest candidate to be sent to Toledo. But identifying a good pitcher would be considerably tougher. Based on performance only, there are no obvious candidates in what has been a good bullpen.

Notwithstanding, the Tigers have a difficult decision to make in a short period of time.

But even if their stance is bad news for Garneau, it might not be so bad.

Garneau is out of options at the moment, so he could get claimed by another team if placed on waivers. Possibly a club with more chances for playing time.

Tigers boss A.J. Hinch said earlier in the week about the impending required cuts, “We’ve got to make some decisions, we’re pretty well aware of our options.”

FULL TIGERS’ 40-MAN ROSTER (40)

Players in bold lettering are on the 28-man player roster

Left-handed pitchers (6): Tyler Alexander, Andrew Chafin, Eduardo Rodriguez, Tarik Skubal, Gregory Soto, Joey Wentz.

Right-handed pitchers (16): Jacob Barnes, Beau Brieske, Angel De Jesus, Alex Faedo, Jason Foley, Michael Fulmer, Rony Garcia, Drew Hutchison, Joe Jimenez, Alex Lange, Matt Manning*, Casey Mize*, Wily Peralta, Michael Pineda, Elvin Rodriguez, Will Vest.

Catchers (3): Tucker Barnhart, Dustin Garneau, Eric Haase.

Infielders (9): Javier Báez, Miguel Cabrera, JeimerCandelario, Harold Castro, Willi Castro, Kody Clemens, Jonathan Schoop, Zack Short, Spencer Torkelson.

Outfielders (6): AkilBaddoo, Daz Cameron, Robbie Grossman, Derek Hill, Austin Meadows, Victor Reyes*.

* On the 10-day injured list: Catcher Jake Rogers (right elbow sprain); and right-handed pitchers Jose Cisnero (right shoulder sprain), Kyle Funkhouser (right shoulder strain), and Spencer Turnbull (right elbow sprain) are on the 60-day injured list, which removes them from the 40-man roster.