DETROIT — Danny Mendick knew he might have been the odd man out when Adam Engel returned from his hamstring injury.
But Billy Hamilton strained his oblique last weekend, ensuring Mendick would stick.
When second baseman Nick Madrigal went on the 60-day injured list Thursday, Mendick became further entrenched.
“You never wish an injury upon anybody, especially a guy like Nick, a competitor like that,” Mendick said Friday. “You can look at the injuries with Luis Robert and Eloy [Jimenez], it’s about being the next man up and helping this team win a World Series.”
Starting at second base for the second night since Madrigal went down, Mendick gave the Sox a 3-1 lead over the Tigers with his single against left-hander Tarik Skubal after catcher Zack Collins led off the fifth inning with a double into the right-field corner. He also singled in the second and, as the free runner in the 10th inning of a 5-4 victory, got his hand down on the plate with a headfirst slide to score on Yoan Moncada’s short sacrifice fly to left field.
“When it went up, Super Joe [coach Joe McEwing] said, ‘You’re going,’ ’’ Mendick said. “That’s what I was thinking regardless. The throw was a little bit up the line, and I got in there.”
Mendick also finished the game by ranging to his right to stop Jonathan Schoop’s hot smash that was headed toward center for the final out with the tying run on second and go-ahead run on first.
He can play shortstop and third base and has played 10 games in the outfield this year, including one in center. That versatility will help him carve out a career in the majors, and yet he has lived on the up-and-down line between Chicago and Triple-A Charlotte since 2019.
“I definitely think about it,” he said. “It’s one of those things that I can’t really control, you know? The position I’m in, I’ve got options, and it just happens to be that way. I have an opportunity right now to play and help this team. I’m excited to do that, and I’ll leave everything on the line.”
Leury Garcia also figures to get time at second base, but Mendick — who has never gone on the injured list in the majors or minors — will play plenty.
“We’re very comfortable that he’ll make all the plays and get some big hits, as well,” manager Tony La Russa said.
In his ongoing initiative to use his entire roster and keep his regulars fresh, La Russa rested catcher Yasmani Grandal after he caught the entire Blue Jays series. Collins caught Lucas Giolito, and Grandal likely will catch the last two games of the series. Brian Goodwin will probably get his first start in center field Saturday. Jose Abreu will probably be the designated hitter -Sunday.
“One of the things we’re trying to do this weekend is get some time off for each of the guys that’s playing a lot,” La Russa said.
Mercedes second again, but not for long
Designated hitter Yermin Mercedes batted second for a second consecutive game. La Russa moved him there Thursday as a means of getting him out of his slump.
“More than anything, Yermin has been struggling a little bit, and this is a chance to give him a different look, get him some strikes to hit,” La Russa said.
If he plays Saturday, he’ll probably return to the middle of the lineup. La Russa plans to bat Goodwin second in his Sox debut.