When the Detroit Tigers demoted outfielder Victor Reyes to Triple-A Toledo on May 8, manager AJ Hinch asked him to make improvements. To warrant a return to the major leagues, Reyes needed to find a consistent offensive approach, make contact, draw walks and limit his strikeouts.
After nine games with the Mud Hens, Reyes is back on the Tigers’ radar.
The 26-year-old is hitting 16-for-37 (.432) with four doubles, one home run, six RBIs, two stolen bases, four walks and four strikeouts. He is riding a nine-game hitting streak, with five multi-hit games.
“He’s had a nice little run, and he’s taken to heart what he needs to do to get back on track,” Hinch said Friday. “I mean, he was a productive hitter last season, and this season, he hadn’t gotten on track. The little stint in Triple-A has proven to be worthwhile for him.
“They tell me he’s swinging the bat well and swinging at the right pitches. Even his outs, he’s had a few long at-bats and controlled the strike zone. All positive reports with him.”
On Thursday, Reyes went 4-for-5 in a 9-5 win over the Columbus Clippers (Cleveland’s affiliate) at Fifth Third Field in Toledo. Hinch checks in often on hitters with Toledo manager Tom Prince.
Before getting sent down, Reyes went 9-for-63 (.143) in 21 games. He registered one home run, three RBIs, two walks and 18 strikeouts. As much as the Tigers enjoyed his ability to play all three outfield positions, his offensive struggles forced a demotion.
Hinch is prepared to bring Reyes back to the majors if he keeps up his hot hitting. It might not be long before the Tigers carve out a role for him, considering JaCoby Jones is hitting .172 (16-for-93) with four walks and 39 strikeouts in 33 games.
“We have to look at how can we rearrange our roster to provide an opportunity if this continues,” Hinch said. “He’s one of the best guys we can bring up. I’m proud of him for taking it constructively and going down and doing well. We’re paying close attention and making all considerations a possibility.”
The Tigers put catcher Grayson Greiner on the 10-day injured list May 12 with a left hamstring strain. He didn’t travel with the team for the six-game road trip, which concludes with three games against the Kansas City Royals on Friday-Sunday.
Since the injury, Greiner has traveled between Toledo and Detroit for rehabilitation.
“He’s ramping up,” Hinch said Wednesday. “He’s already run a little bit, doing a little bit of catching activities yet. He’s not quite ready to play yet, but his activities are going to start to ramp up late into this week and then hopefully get into some rehab games in the not-so-distant future.”
Hinch expects Greiner to make a rehabilitation start for Toledo next week. He should make his first appearance during the Mud Hens’ six-game visit to the Louisville Bats (the Cincinnati Reds’ affiliate) beginning Tuesday.
Before Greiner’s injury, the 28-year-old was 9-for-38 (.237) with one home run, five RBIs, one walk and 16 strikeouts in the major leagues. He opened the season as the backup and has played 120 career games across parts of four seasons.
Left-hander Derek Holland entered out of the bullpen in the top of the sixth inning Thursday for Triple-A Toledo, making his first rehabilitation outing in his recovery from a left shoulder strain. The Tigers put him on the 10-day injured list May 6, retroactive to May 3.
Holland, 34, hasn’t pitched for the Tigers since May 1.
“We’re going to have him pitch multiple innings on Saturday, and then we’ll have a discussion on what that means as we get back to the homestand,” Hinch said Friday. “Whether it’s his last outing or he needs another one after that will be talked about amongst the group. We’ll make that determination on Sunday before we come home.”
Against the Clippers, Holland fired one scoreless inning with one strikeout. He hit Owen Miller with a 2-2 pitch to start the sixth but bounced back by striking out Bobby Bradley on three pitches. He disposed of the next two batters, Ryan Lavarnway and Bradley Zimmer, for a 15-pitch inning. He threw 10 of his 15 pitches for strikes.
“He threw the ball well last night, and I think he was like mid-90s again, just like he was at the tail end of spring training,” Hinch said. “That was good to see. The injury component, we’ve answered that question. He’s able to pitch at a high level.”
Holland owns a 13.00 ERA this season across nine innings in eight games (one start), with six walks, nine strikeouts and two home runs allowed. It’s his 13th season in the majors after joining the Tigers as a spring training non-roster invitee.
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.