Boston — The last time Casey Mize walked on the field at Fenway Park, he was pitching for a team in the Cape Cod Baseball League.
“Seeing Fenway for the first time was remarkable,” he said. “Just growing up a baseball fan, it’s the most iconic park, for me, in this whole great game. It was awesome to walk in and step on the grass, just understanding the players that have played here and all the amazing things that have happened here.
“That was a great day for me to be able to step on the field for the first time.”
So, imagine how the adrenaline will be pumping Wednesday night when he steps on the mound at Fenway for the first time as big-league pitcher.
“It’s definitely something I’m looking forward to,” Mize said Tuesday. “It’s not going to be overwhelming. It’s just like, I can’t wait to step on the field. For a lot of guys it’s been there, done that, but this is a first for me.
“It’s going to be a really cool moment for me.”
The Red Sox lineup won’t let him dwell on any of that for long. They went into the game Tuesday leading the major leagues in average (.261) and extra-base hits (101) and leading the American League in runs (138), slugging (.437) and OPS (.762).
Former Tiger J.D. Martinez is sizzling, hitting .347 with an OPS-plus of 215 and leading the American League in home runs (nine), doubles (10) and RBIs (26).
“They are swinging it really well,” Mize said. “This is hot baseball team right now. It’s going to be a challenging day because you have to make so many quality pitches over and over. A hot team like this can really take advantage of your mistakes.”
Mize really only made one mistake in his last outing, a six-inning complete game in Chicago, but it bled into a three-run fifth inning.
“I let that 1-2 fastball to Jake Lamb derail me,” he said. “Eight of the next nine pitches were balls and I walked the bases loaded and all three runs scored. I need to really try to limit that from happening from one mistake — making me frustrated and then letting that pile up.”
In the other five innings he worked, he allowed two hits and struck out six.
“I feel good about where I’m at right now,” Mize said. “My stuff was good last time out. I threw a quality bullpen and did some quality work this week, so I am looking forward to getting out there.”
Then maybe on Thursday, before the Tigers come home from this three-city trip, he will duck inside the Green Monster, behind the manual scoreboard, and add his signature to the famous wall in there.
“Yeah, we were on the bus from the airport to the hotel (on Sunday) and Derek Holland made an announcement,” Mize said. “He said make sure you sign your name on the wall behind the scoreboard. It’s pretty cool. I’ll definitely go do that.”
Injuries on the farm
The Tigers have known for a few days that outfield prospect Daz Cameron had fractured his right wrist playing at the alternate site. On Tuesday, with the minor league season starting, the official announcement was made that Cameron was starting on the injured list.
“He’s doing a little better than what it reads,” manager AJ Hinch said. “But he’s going to be in Lakeland for a couple of weeks. He’s not immobilized. He’s rehabbing. It’s not as significant as it sounds but we have to monitor it and make sure he’s at full strength before he goes back into games.”
Cameron has had a rough year. He was slowed last year by COVID-19. Then he missed most of winter ball and spring training with an elbow injury on his throwing arm.
The news was worse for right-handed pitcher Franklin Perez. Beset by an assortment of injuries since the Tigers acquired him in the Justin Verlander trade in 2017, Perez was placed on the injured list at Single-A West Michigan with a right shoulder capsule defect.
“I was told he was out and not to expect him for a decent amount of time,” Hinch said.
Perez is scheduled to see Dr. Neal ElAttrache in Los Angeles on Thursday.
Perez and Cameron were two-thirds of the get-back for Verlander. The other, catcher Jake Rogers, is starting the season in Toledo.
Lefty starter Matthew Boyd threw a full bullpen before the game Tuesday and, barring any setback, should make his next scheduled start on Sunday against the Twins at Comerica Park.
“He will throw another bullpen either here Thursday or Friday when we get home,” Hinch said. “And we’re penciling him in for Sunday, which is his normal turn in the rotation.”
Boyd left his start last Thursday in the second inning with left knee tendinitis.
“From what I thought when I walked out to the mound in Chicago, to him missing just one start — that’s a sigh of relief if we can get to that result,” Hinch said.
Tigers at Red Sox
►First pitch: 7:10 p.m. Wednesday, Fenway Park, Boston
RHP Casey Mize (1-3, 5.06), Tigers: Left-handed hitters continue to bedevil him, hitting .311 and slugging .600 with a .992 OPS against. He is coming off an encouraging six-inning complete game against the White Sox in Chicago. He went back to pitching off his four-seam fastball, with good results.
LHP Martin Perez (0-2, 4.70), Red Sox: He has a five-pitch mix, but when he’s right he’s throwing change-ups and sinkers off a tough-to-barrel 90-mph cutter. The average exit velocity on balls in play against is mild 88 mph and his splits are similar to right-handed and left-handed hitters. Oddly, though, he leads the American League with five hit batsmen.