Notes: Prospect debuts; H. Castro to IL

Detroit Tigers

Tigers pitching coach Rick Anderson sent Tarik Skubal out to the mound for his Major League debut Tuesday night against the White Sox with some simple instructions.
“Have some fun at it, man,” Anderson said he told his young left-hander. “I want to look out there and see you smiling

Tigers pitching coach Rick Anderson sent Tarik Skubal out to the mound for his Major League debut Tuesday night against the White Sox with some simple instructions.

“Have some fun at it, man,” Anderson said he told his young left-hander. “I want to look out there and see you smiling and enjoying yourself.”

Well, Anderson knocked that off in a minute.

Two innings later, as Skubal sat in the dugout following four White Sox runs on seven hits, Anderson was by his side, talking with him for more than an inning.

“We talked to him a little bit about his emotions,” Anderson said, “and then you think about some of the mistakes you made and let’s get those out of the way and let’s think about all the positives, some of the good pitches and good at-bats.”

Such is the job of a pitching coach — part mechanic, part psychologist. When the pitching coach has two highly talented, highly regarded pitchers making their Major League debuts on back-to-back nights, it’s a lot of the psychologist part. He tries to keep them loose and relaxed while letting them concentrate on the task at hand. But most of all, like manager Ron Gardenhire, Anderson wants them to enjoy the moment.

Anderson knows. He still remembers his Major League debut with the 1986 Mets, a team with World Series expectations.

“I remember my debut, I said, ‘I just hope I throw it in that area,’” Anderson said. “I just hope I don’t throw it over the backstop or something.”

Anderson short-changes himself in that respect. He allowed a lone unearned run on four hits over seven innings in his debut against a stacked Phillies offense, taking a no-decision before the Mets lost in extra innings.

Anderson was a 24-round Draft pick who made his debut at age 29 after nine seasons in the Minor Leagues. Skubal and Casey Mize were 2018 MLB Draft picks — Mize first overall, Skubal in the ninth round.

“Now’s the time,” Anderson said. “Let’s see what we’ve got. To me, I think it’s the perfect type of season. There’s no fans in the stands. I mean, the big leagues is the big leagues, obviously, but it’s just a little bit different this year, so it’s a perfect time to get them started.”

With Skubal, ironically, Anderson thinks he might have been trying too hard to stay calm and got away from the aggressiveness that marked his quick rise up the Minors. They’ll work on that before his next start Sunday in Cleveland.

“The biggest thing is, ‘Hey, we got that first one out of the way, now let’s take off running,’” Anderson said.

Castro latest Tiger on injured list
The Tigers suffered another injury to their positional ranks Wednesday when utilityman Harold Castro went on the 10-day injured list with a left hamstring strain sustained Tuesday night.

The medical staff was still awaiting results of an MRI exam as of Wednesday afternoon but Gardenhire described it as a mild strain.

Castro sustained the injury during a fifth-inning at-bat. His start in right field was his second start in the past six days. His positional versatility and left-handed bat made him a valuable player on the roster, and he hit 8-for-29 (.276) with three doubles, four runs scored, four walks and six strikeouts.

To fill Castro’s spot, the Tigers called up outfielder Jorge Bonifacio from the alternate training site in Toledo, Ohio. This marks Bonifacio’s his first stint with the big club since signing a Minor League contract in December. The 27-year-old right-handed hitter was a Royals regular in 2017, batting .255 with 17 homers, 40 RBIs and a .752 OPS, before playing just 74 games with Kansas City over the next couple of seasons.

“I just kept telling myself, ‘You need to work more than in the past to get back there and put those numbers back there, the things I know I can do on the field,’” Bonfacio said. “I just told myself to keep working every day and try to get better. I was talking to my brother [Emilio, who played with Washington] last night, and I told him I had the same feeling I got the first time I was called up. I couldn’t sleep last night thinking about all the good things. That was a good feeling.”

Quick hits
• Reliever Buck Farmer appears imminent to return from the 10-day injured list (left groin strain), either when he’s eligible to be reinstated on Thursday or the next day in Cleveland. The Tigers’ setup man threw a 15-pitch simulated game Wednesday and felt great, Anderson said.

Jeimer Candelario batted leadoff Wednesday night after the Tigers coaching staff consulted with its analytics department on how to spark the lineup.

“We did some research and went over with the analytics department and asked them to put all the data in there and see what gives us our best opportunity,” Gardenhire said.

• To make room for Mize on the 40-man roster, the Tigers transferred Dario Agrazal to the 45-day injured list. The right-hander was already on the 10-day IL with a right forearm strain sustained in the first week of the season.

“Honestly, he’s just not really been getting a lot better,” Gardenhire said. “Every time he goes to throw, he still feels it. It’s just the right thing to do right now.”

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for since 2002. Read Beck’s Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason.

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