LAKELAND, Fla. — Casey Mize walked just nine batters over 83 2/3 innings during his sophomore season at Auburn. He walked 13 batters in 28 1/3 innings for the Tigers last season, and he has walked six batters through four hitless innings so far in Spring Training.
It’s an odd quirk for a pitcher who knows the value of flooding the strike zone. It’s also a small sample size.
“I mean, the track record, I think you guys know, I throw strikes,” Mize said after walking the bases loaded in his second inning of work in Sunday’s 5-1 win over the Blue Jays at Joker Marchant Stadium. “And so, I think it’s just [I’m] trying to do a lot right now, which is negatively affecting my strike-throwing ability a little bit.”
It comes at a time when Mize is trying to impress a new manager who has challenged Detroit’s young pitchers to look past the prospect rankings and pitch their way onto the team. A.J. Hinch knows Mize’s track record.
“It’s not going to be part of who he is, or what he does,” Hinch said. “It’s what he did today, what he did last time. I think he’s just trying a little bit too hard, to be honest.”
Mize entered Sunday in relief, which seemed to raise his adrenaline. His fastball sat at 96-97 mph and approached 98 on occasion, according to Statcast, while his secondary pitches had plenty of movement.
Mize had a solid 18-pitch third inning, retiring the middle of the Blue Jays’ lineup in order. He walked the bases loaded in the fourth, all on full-count pitches off the plate to right-handed hitters. With the bases full, Mize recovered against lefty-hitting Rowdy Tellez, who fouled off two 97 mph fastballs before getting twisted on a slider in on his hands.
“I’ve just got to be in the zone more as a whole, honestly,” Mize said. “I’m doing a pretty good job of getting to two strikes. I just have to end the at-bat a lot quicker than I am.”
Greiner injured on hit-by-pitch to face
Grayson Greiner left Sunday’s game after being hit in the face by a sixth-inning fastball from Elvis Luciano.
Luciano, who hit Zack Short with a pitch off his helmet earlier in the week, lost his first pitch of the afternoon to Greiner, who went to the ground and grabbed at his face. Hinch and the Tigers’ athletic training staff attended to him before he walked to the dugout on his own power, holding a towel to his nose and mouth.
“He was in a lot of pain when we got out there,” Hinch said. “He was a little bit, honestly, frightened. Trainers were right on top of it.”
Greiner was still being evaluated by doctors after the game.
“They’ve got to check him out for a variety of things,” Hinch said. “We’ll have a full update as the doctors give us a the diagnosis.”
Tigers nearing full camp
Tigertown is creeping ever closer to full population as late arrivals file in, including three updates Sunday:
• Outfielder Victor Reyes has passed intake testing as well as his physical and joined the team for full workouts.
• Renato Núñez, who’s trying to win a starting job at first base as a non-roster invite, is in Lakeland and working out on his own on the back fields. He has one last administrative hurdle to clear before he can officially join camp.
• Second baseman Jonathan Schoop has arrived in Lakeland from Curacao and is going through intake testing and physicals.
Once Schoop is cleared, the Tigers will finally have their entire roster in camp.
Cameron limited by elbow injury
Like the above mentioned players, Daz Cameron has yet to appear in a game this spring. The outfielder has been in camp, but he remains limited by the right elbow injury he sustained in winter ball.
Cameron is slated to face pitchers in live batting practice and simulated games in the next few days, Hinch said.
“Hopefully by mid-week to maybe later in the week, I’m going to get him some DH at-bats,” Hinch said. “He’s getting closer to resuming [full] activities. He’s doing a throwing program, but he’s not quite cleared to play the outfield. But the at-bats will pick up a little bit.”
The Tigers had a couple of open spots left in their camp allotment of 75 players, Hinch said, and Meadows and Kreidler topped the list provided by the player-development department.
Meadows, the Tigers’ second-round pick in the 2018 Draft, saw some late-season work at the alternate training site in Toledo, Ohio, last season before taking part in the Florida instructional league. The 21-year-old hit .221 with a .607 OPS at Class A West Michigan in his only full pro season in 2019.
“Another good example of a guy that really suffered from the pandemic lost year,” Hinch said. “There’s a lot of guys that struggle their first time out or get into that full season, and then the next year when you’re asked to make adjustments, there was no baseball for him.”
Kreidler, the Tigers’ fourth-round Draft pick in 2019, also finished last year at the alternate training site before playing instructional ball.
Perez to debut Wednesday
Right-hander Franklin Perez will make his first appearance of the Grapefruit League season Wednesday against the Phillies in Clearwater. He has been progressed slowly in camp after a late arrival.