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Tigers call up Ronny Rodriguez from Triple-A Toledo

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The versatile defender will take Jordy Mercer’s place on the 25-man roster.

MLB: Spring Training-Toronto Blue Jays at Detroit Tigers Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Ronny Rodriguez has been called up from Triple-A Toledo to take the injured Jordy Mercer’s spot on the 25-man roster. Mercer sustained a right quad strain on Saturday legging out a double in the fifth inning of a match with the Minnesota Twins.

A product of the Dominican Republic who came up through the Cleveland Indians’ organization, Rodriguez signed on with the Tigers as a free agent in November of 2017 in hopes of becoming the next super-utility player, in the same vein as Don Kelly and Andrew Romine before him. He struggled early on in his minor league career, but has managed to put up some decent offensive numbers in more recent seasons, with his best performance coming last year in Toledo. In 2018, he put up a robust batting average of .338 with an OPS of .923, including nine home runs, ten steals (against eight caught stealing), and 47 strikeouts, but only ten bases on balls in 275 plate appearances.

Unfortunately, his offensive success in the minors did not translate well in the majors. In 206 plate appearances for the big league club in 2018, Rodriguez managed a paltry .220 BA with a .591 OPS to go along. He did manage to swat five dingers, but also struck out 47 times and maintained his miniscule walk rate drawing only ten free passes. However, he did have a more encouraging spring training this year, batting .255 with an OPS of .860 and four homers against an opponent quality rating of 7.2, which lies between the AA and AAA levels of the minors. He has had a slow start in Toledo this year, but with the cold weather and the small sample sizes, it is difficult to derive any conclusions from his performance just yet.

What Rodriguez offers most to the Tigers in his call-up is his versatile glove. He has professional experience playing six different positions in the field — every spot except for left field, pitcher and catcher — with an emphasis on the infield. His career defensive numbers are all solid, though Ronny was a bit error-prone last season in his stint with Detroit, where he committed the majority of his errors at shortstop, the position he is expected to fill — at least part-time — botching six plays in 76 chances.

Rodriguez will serve as a glue-guy for the roster, filling in wherever he is needed with an average glove while providing some potential pop in his bat. With Niko Goodrum and Nicholas Castellanos recently out with short-term ailments, the Tigers’ bench is running very thin, so he will be expected to step in and contribute immediately. Jason Beck quoted Ron Gardenhire this morning confirming that Rodriguez will be in the lineup for today’s match in Minnesota. He will start at second base and is slotted seventh in the batting order.