"Uh, I mean," he said Wednesday, taking a pause before giving his response. "It's not my team. It's their decision they want to make. I go play ball. That's the only thing I can do."
Sidelined since Sept. 2 with a right oblique strain, he returned Tuesday from the 10-day injured list. When he entered the clubhouse before the game against the Kansas City Royals, he was told by manager Ron Gardenhire that he was shifting to second base.
Goodrum was moved because the organization wants to see more of 23-year-old Willi Castro, who leads the team with a .352 batting average, at shortstop. Led by general manager Al Avila, the Tigers think he can be the everyday shortstop of the future with some defensive adjustments.
"I did as good as I thought I could do at short," said Goodrum, who only made one error in 110 chances. "You know, it is what it is. I guess I'll be playing second until Schoop gets back, and we'll see what happens. Just figure out a way to help the team win. That's what I'm trying to do."
Gardenhire said the answer to Goodrum's question — whether he will return to shortstop — depends on who is asked within the franchise.
"They don't all just say one thing," Gardenhire said. "All my bosses have opinions on the whole thing. And they should. They are the bosses. We all know Niko played a hell of a shortstop this year. He can do that, but he also can play multiple positions.
"This is just to get a look at Willi, more than anything else. And then those decisions for next year will be made next year."
In four MLB seasons, Goodrum has played second base (95 games), shortstop (79), first base (55), left field (31), right field (14), third base (11) and center field (8). His versatility gives the Tigers plenty of options, but that's not necessarily what the 28-year-old wants.
He prefers consistency.
"It's always difficult moving to another position, especially if you haven't played it in over a year," Goodrum said. "If anybody can do it, I can do it. I don't think there's anyone better at doing that than me. ... It's out of my control."
At the plate, Goodrum owns a .197 batting average, five homers and 18 RBIs in 32 games this season. He went 2-for-4 with one RBI and one walk in Tuesday's 6-0 victory.
It's a small sample size, but his numbers have dropped from 2019. While rehabbing at the alternate training site in Toledo, he focused on how to "get back to me" with the bat.
"And solidifying what I want to do," Goodrum said. "I'm trying to keep stuff simple. That's what I have to do. Just go ahead and be somebody that my eyes tell them when to react. So, just trusting my eyes and letting them tell me when to swing."
Bonifacio 'more focused'
Outfielder Jorge Bonifacio finished 2-for-3 with two RBIs and one walk in Tuesday's win.
The opponent, more than the game itself, made his performance extra special.
"Feels good to beat them," Bonifacio said, laughing. "I was a little more focused today to do my job."
That's because the Royals signed him in 2009 as an amateur free agent. He made his MLB debut in 2017 and played 113 games, slashing .255/.320/.432 with 17 homers and 40 RBIs. He played 69 games for Kansas City in 2018, as well as five more in 2019.
In November 2019, the Royals released him.
Less than two weeks later, Bonifacio signed with the Tigers. He is hitting .270 with two homers and 17 RBIs in 22 games this year.
"Getting more reps and more playing time gives me more confidence," Bonifacio said. "That's been huge for me lately, getting more at-bats. I've got more confidence."
See you, St. Louis?
The Tigers have 11 scheduled games remaining, but that doesn't include an as-of-yet un-rescheduled doubleheader with the St. Louis Cardinals. If there are playoff berths on the line for either team, the seven-inning games will need to be made up.
Gardenhire expects the doubleheader to happen Sept. 28, the day after the Tigers' series finale against the Royals in Kansas City.
"If there's a chance they can move up in the standings, or get in, or get knocked out, I'm sure that's why they want us to play those games," Gardenhire said. "I was originally going to fly from Kansas City back to Minnesota, but now I'm flying back with the team after the last game because of that. We should know by then, but I'm going to do it anyway."
This year features an expanded playoff field with eight teams making the postseason in each league: the top two teams from each division, plus two wild-cards.
The Cardinals (21-22) entered Wednesday as the No. 2 team in the NL Central (and the NL's sixth seed), 1½ games ahead of the Cincinnati Reds (24-26) and two games ahead of the Milwaukee Brewers (22-25). The Cards faced the Brewers in a doubleheader Wednesday, the second of four twinbills scheduled for the final two weeks of the season. Meanwhile, the Tigers (21-26) entered Wednesday as the AL's 10th-place team but only 4½ games back of the Cleveland Indians for the final wild-card spot (sandwiching the Seattle Mariners) with a four-game series against Cleveland this weekend.
Evan Petzold is a sports reporting intern at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold. The Free Press has started a new digital subscription model. Here's how you can gain access to our most exclusive Detroit Tigers content.
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Tigers' Niko Goodrum moves to 2B: 'It's not my team'