After making four roster moves before Friday’s game, the Detroit Tigers announced four new moves leading up to Saturday’s clash with the Minnesota Twins, including the return of outfielder Nomar Mazara from the 10-day injured list.
To make room for Mazara, outfielder Victor Reyes was optioned to Triple-A Toledo.
“That was a tough one because I love Victor,” Hinch said Saturday. “We had to make a move and decided to keep the extra pitcher, just based on how our bullpen usage has been. … He was the odd man out today.”
The Tigers placed right-hander Erasmo Ramirez — called up Friday — on the 10-day injured list with a right pectoralis strain. As Ramirez’s replacement, right-hander Joe Jimenez, the team’s former closer, was recalled from Toledo.
Mazara went to the injured list April 15 with a left abdominal strain. He rehabbed in Lakeland, Florida, home of the team’s spring training facility, before making rehabilitation starts in Toledo. He went 2-for-12 (.167) with one home run, two RBIs, one walk and two strikeouts in three games for the Mud Hens.
Through 12 games in the majors this season, Mazara is 9-for-38 (.237) with two home runs, five RBIs, two walks and seven strikeouts. The Tigers signed the 26-year-old to a one-year, $1.75 million contract this winter.
“I told him we just need him to come up and be good,” Hinch said. “That’s all we’re asking. He’s healthy, and he feels good. The pitch recognition has been good, so that was a key for us in the first three games of his rehab to indicate we could push him a little bit and get him up here soon.”
In his fourth MLB season, Reyes has struggled after making the team out of spring training. He went 9-for-63 (.143) with one home run, three RBIs, two walks and 18 strikeouts across 21 games. In his 247-game career, the 26-year-old has drawn 30 walks compared to 173 strikeouts.
His only multi-hit game this year was a 3-for-4 performance in Tuesday’s 11-7 loss to the Boston Red Sox. The Tigers entered the season with five outfielders: Robbie Grossman, JaCoby Jones, Akil Baddoo (Rule 5 draft pick), Mazara and Reyes.
“We need Victor to get back to having a more consistent approach,” Hinch said. “Getting to play every day in Triple-A is better than the five outfielders here in the big leagues at this point. … He was a little unlucky with how he played. The playing time was a little sporadic. There are a lot of reasons why things didn’t go perfectly for him.
“I think he’s a big leaguer. I think he provides a lot of energy, and he’s always prepared. But, clearly, we want him to go get some at-bats.”
This marks Jimenez’s second stint with the Tigers this season, after getting cut from the roster at the end of spring training. The Tigers recalled him from the alternate training site in Toledo on April 15 when Mazara went to the injury list but quickly sent Jimenez back to the minors.
That’s because the 26-year-old gave up five runs in one inning across two games, for a 45.00 ERA. While his opponents didn’t get a hit against him, the ex-All-Star walked seven of the 10 batters he faced. He was optioned to Toledo on April 21 when starter Spencer Turnbull returned from the COVID-19 injured list.
“He’s got experience on the roster,” Hinch said. “We do want to see more strikes out of him. He can pitch at this level, and we’ve got to keep challenging him. We need innings. As much as I want to talk about roles, we’re just trying to get through the games with a healthy group.”
Jimenez pitched Opening Day for the Mud Hens on Tuesday, entering for the ninth inning in a save situation vs. Nashville. His first pitch was crushed by Jamie Westbrook for a home run. He bounced back to retire the next three batters in order to preserve the win.
Ramirez, 31, sustained his pectoral injury while warming up in the bullpen Friday during the fifth inning. After throwing a pitch, he told assistant pitching coach Juan Nieves he was unable to continue. The Tigers evaluated him during the first of two rain delays.
“Severe enough that he needs a break,” Hinch said. “It’ll be more than 10 days, but I have no idea how long.”
Evan Petzold is a sports reporter at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold. Read more on the Detroit Tigers and sign up for our Tigers newsletter.