DETROIT — It was a whirlwind day for Eugenio Suarez.
Suarez, 22, was in Buffalo, NY, with the Toledo Mud Hens when he found out at 1 p.m. Wednesday that the Tigers wanted him in Detroit. Immediately.
"They told me I had to get to the airport right away because the flight was leaving," Suarez said through translator Aileen Villarreal, the Tigers’ public relations director. "It caught me by complete surprise. There were a few people that kind of mentioned it the past few days but it was a complete surprise."
Naturally, Suarez, who was batting .302 with two home runs and seven RBI in 12 games, was delighted to get the call.
"I was very, very happy," Suarez said. "I almost cried but I was with my friends so he didn’t want to be embarrassed."
The first person Suarez called, of course, was his mother back in Venezuela.
"She cried and just congratulated me and thanked God, like we always do," Suarez said. "We always give thanks to God."
Suarez arrived at the ballpark around 6 p.m.
Tigers manager Brad Ausmus did not have Suarez in the starting lineup but nearly had to put him in the game in the fourth inning when shortstop Andrew Romine appeared to hurt his shoulder fielding Jose Bautista’s single.
"He thought he felt his shoulder pop out and back in, but he said he was OK to hit left-handed, and to throw, obviously, but we were a little concerned about the right-handed swing," Ausmus said. "Other than that, he was fine."
Suarez started to get ready but Romine remained in the game.
In the sixth inning, J.D. Martinez pinch hit for Romine so Suarez made his major-league debut in the field in the seventh inning.
"I just felt like, ‘Wow,’ like ‘I’m really here,’" Suarez said. "This is what every player tries to get to, and I’m here. Just a ‘wow’ moment."
Suarez fielded catcher Josh Thole’s grounder easily to end the seventh.
In the eighth, Suarez had a memorable first at-bat.
With one out and runners at first and second, Suarez hit into a force-out to third baseman Brett Lawrie, who touched third to get the lead runner.
Lawrie’s throw then hit Suarez at first base and bounced away, so the throwing error allowed Suarez to take second. But Suarez slid into second awkwardly, appearing to injure his left knee.
"It was just the game situation. I was trying to put the ball in play," Suarez said. "It was just a bad throw and I was trying to get to second and had a bad slide."
Suarez iced his knee after the game and said he was doing fine.
"At the moment it did hurt a little bit and I was a little worried but it feels fine now and it’ll feel good (Thursday)," Suarez said.
Good thing because Ausmus has already said that Suarez will start at shortstop Thursday against Toronto left-hander J.A. Happ.
"Yeah, I’m excited," Suarez said of his first start. "Really excited."
Unfortunately, Suarez’s family members are all home in Venezuela so they won’t be able to see him play in person but they will be watching.
"They’ll watch on TV in Venezuela," Suarez said. "They’re always watching when the Tigers play."