With Hill in the mix, the Tigers have speed to burn in the outfield

Detroit – There’s nothing quite like having too much speed and athleticism – especially if you’re talking about defending the vast outfield at Comerica Park. And with Derek Hill back in the mix, coverage of the Tigers’ zone has expanded significantly.

But it comes with an increased emphasis on communication.

There have already been a few times this season where the aggressive pursuit of flying balls by two fast Alpha dog flyers has led to near collisions. And, in one case, a fallen bullet. It was in Cleveland on June 30. Daz Cameron, playing at right field, crossed past Hill, shielding him with the ball and forcing him to drop it.

“We have a lot of speed there,” Akil Baddoo said. “It can sometimes be a struggle with communication. But it’s something we’ve been working on so that when we’re there, we’re sure we’re on the same page.

“It’s going to be good. It’s not a big deal to have.

This is certainly not the case. It’s a blessing, just ask any Tigers staff pitcher. But there is a new dynamic involved. Kimera Bartee, internally promoted to be the new first base coach, will also handle in-game positioning adjustments for the outfielder.

“Kimera will be fine,” manager AJ Hinch said. “He was with us throughout spring training until last week and he had a working relationship with George (Lombard, bench and outfield coach). They’ve been in contact all season. This level is not new to KB.

In the doubles program opener on Saturday, Hinch started Hill in center with Eric Haase on the left and Robbie Grossman on the right. The best cover defense, however, will be when Baddoo and Hill start together.

“It doesn’t change our graphics,” Hinch said. “The data is the data on where the guys are generally hitting the ball. (Hill) just makes more games. This is where the value is. It is not in our positioning. It doesn’t change. Haase is a solid left fielder and Grossman can cover his pitch on the right. It’s just about playing games.

“The numbers don’t change just because you change your outfield setup, but the number of plays you make should change. We are delighted to have him here.

Fulmer progresses

Barring a setback, Tigers lifter Michael Fulmer could begin a rehabilitation mission as early as next week.

“He’s doing great,” Hinch said. “He’s likely to throw a bullpen this weekend, just get out of the mound nicely and easily. Then he’ll pitch a few more bullpen and a live batting practice. If there is no setback by the end of the weekend, we will probably see him come down from the mound (in competition).

Fulmer has been absent since June 27 because of a straight cervical strain (neck).

Around the horn

… Niko Goodrum, who was in the lineup at shortstop for Game 1, was scratched just before the game with tightness in his left calf. He had performed pre-game defensive drills, but carefully walked away with the coach after sprinting into the outfield. Zack Short replaced him in the lineup.

… After the match, Hinch announced that Goodrum would be placed on the injured list. Victor Reyes was summoned from Toledo and was expected to be available for Game 2.

… Starter Matthew Boyd (elbow) still doesn’t throw a mound. He throws on level ground, steadily increasing the distance and ultimately the volume. He shouldn’t be back until August at the earliest.

… Prospect Kody Clemens, a second baseman by trade, played both first baseman and right field at Triple-A Toledo. “We’ve said time and time again that versatility can help you reach the big leagues,” Hinch said. “We want our players to move and be an answer when we need a call-up. If you can increase your versatility, you increase your opportunities.

Twitter @ cmccosky

Twins at Tigers

1:10 p.m.

TV / Radio: BSDet, 97.1

Scouting Report:

LHP JA Happ (5-4, 5.90), Twins: The Tigers notched him for eight hits and one homer from Eric Haase in Minnesota last week, but couldn’t deliver the knockout. The Tigers had to be sitting on his side throws because he got 15 calls called and seven swings and misses with 59 four passer.

RHP Wily Peralta (2-1, 2.08), Tigers: He allowed one earned run in 19⅔ innings in his last four starts. He has excellent command of his fastball and slider, but the key has been a fractional change he has developed this winter. The batters are 0-for-22 against him with eight strikeouts.

Chris McCosky

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