Detroit Tigers manager AJ Hinch isn’t calling Grayson Greiner’s situation a setback, but there is a delay in the backup catcher’s return from the injured list.
Greiner hasn’t played during his rehab assignment with Triple-A Toledo since Thursday, his second game for the Mud Hens. He was placed on the 10-day injured list May 12 with a left hamstring strain.
“Grayson had a little discomfort a couple days ago when he played, when he ran around the bases,” Hinch said Sunday. “He’s been given a couple days off to have any of that soreness subside. He originally was going to play this weekend. It doesn’t look like he’s going to get back in there for a couple of days.”
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With Jake Rogers and Eric Haase performing well, the organization doesn’t need to rush Greiner back from his injury. Once Greiner is healthy, the Tigers need to decide whether to leave him in Triple-A or bring him back to the majors. Hinch is also without catcher Wilson Ramos, on the 10-day injured list with a lumbar spine strain.
Greiner played 14 games for the Tigers before his injury, hitting .247 with one home run, five RBIs, one walk and 16 strikeouts. In two games for Toledo, he went 2-for-5 with one double.
“I wouldn’t officially call it a setback yet, but it was a delay,” Hinch said. “We’re trying to make sure that we don’t push him too fast, too hard.”
Adding Rony Garcia to taxi squad
The Tigers will add right-hander Rony Garcia, currently in Triple-A Toledo, to the taxi squad for the upcoming road trip. With righty Jose Urena on the 10-day injured list, the team needs a starter for Monday’s contest with the Milwaukee Brewers at American Family Field.
Whether the Tigers activate Garcia to start Monday depends on the bullpen in Sunday’s series finale with the New York Yankees. If the bullpen isn’t heavily taxed, Hinch said to expect one of three left-handers — Tyler Alexander, Derek Holland or Daniel Norris — to start the bullpen-only game against the Brewers.
“(The Yankees are) going to have an all right-handed lineup today,” Hinch said. “They’ll have some left-handed bench guys, so I can see our right-handed bullpen being heavily used again today, which leads me to the probable left-handed starter for tomorrow.
“Even with the left-handed starter tomorrow, it’s going to be a bullpen day any way you look at it.”
Garcia, 23, has a 3.20 ERA, 10 walks and 24 strikeouts across 19⅔ innings in four starts for the Mud Hens. He pitched 21 innings for the Tigers in 2020 as a Rule 5 draft pick, registering an 8.14 ERA, nine walks and 14 strikeouts.
Willi Castro’s confidence
Second baseman Willi Castro is trying to stay positive through his third season in the majors (106 games total).
But 2021 isn’t going as planned.
Castro, 24, is hitting .203 with three home runs, 14 RBIs, seven walks and 48 strikeouts.
“I know that I’m struggling,” Castro said. “The guys that are playing feel good. We just want to win. I know I’m going to get my opportunity. I’m going to keep fighting. Hopefully, I get back to playing every day.”
He went 2-for-3 with one double and one RBI on offense in Saturday’s 6-1 win over the Yankees. He added a stellar diving play — with a strong throw from the ground — at second base, taking a single away from DJ LeMahieu. He helped execute a double play and didn’t make any errors.
Castro has not made a defensive error since May 1.
“Willi is a good player,” Hinch said. “Willi can play at this level. Willi can handle the position. Plays like this, days like this, when he goes home feeling pretty good about himself, maybe that’s the key to spring boarding him to playing a little more consistently, both for me as his manager putting him in the lineup but also for him. Contributing to wins, there’s not a lot better feeling at this level.”
Joe Jimenez’s development
In the ninth inning Saturday, Hinch called on righty reliever Joe Jimenez — a former closer and All-Star — to hold a five-run lead. He conceded a one-out walk to Gary Sanchez but struck out Mike Ford swinging at fastball and got Miguel Andujar to pop out to second base to secure the win.
Jimenez over his last five appearances has a 1.80 ERA, three walks and seven strikeouts in five innings. During his first three outings this season: 43.20 ERA, nine walks and four strikeouts in 1⅔ innings.
“He knows he can pitch at this level,” Hinch said. “He’s got to be in the strike zone in order to do that. We’ve got to avoid the noncompetitive walks. He’s starting to clean that up. He’s getting through some innings where he’s ending the inning very positively. Those are all good signs.”
Jimenez aims to become a three-pitch pitcher, using his changeup as a weapon to pair with his fastball and slider.
“Where he pitches in the game, or what role, is irrelevant at this point,” Hinch said. “We’ve got to get him right and feeling his strengths again. His last couple outings have been that way.”
60-day IL update
Right-hander Julio Teheran still isn’t throwing. He was placed on the injured list April 10, retroactive to April 7, with a right shoulder strain. Hinch said Teheran has another doctor’s appointment soon but is “pretty far away” from returning.
Teheran, 30, only made one start for the Tigers this season. He gave up one run on four hits and three walks, with three strikeouts, in five innings April 3 against Cleveland. He was invited to spring training on a minor-league deal but made the Opening Day roster out of camp.
“Given the length of time he’s been down, it’s going to take him a pretty long time to build up once he starts throwing,” Hinch said. “But he has not thrown yet.”
Erasmo Ramirez’s injury
Right-hander Erasmo Ramirez — placed on the 10-day injured list May 8 with a right pectoralis strain — is making progress in Lakeland, Florida.
“We’re going to increase his workload,” Hinch said. “He’s still a few weeks away from factoring in but getting closer and closer to getting back on a mound and doing some things to build up.”
On the farm: Kody Clemens
After starting at second base May 3 on Opening Day for Triple-A Toledo, Kody Clemens has been sidelined on the injured list with a left forearm strain — on his nonthrowing arm — from diving for a ground ball.
The Mud Hens sent him on a rehab assignment Sunday to Low-A Lakeland, and he will play the first of three games for the Lakeland Flying Tigers starting Sunday. Clemens has already played two games in the Tigers’ extended spring training program.
“He’s ramping up his activities,” Hinch said. “I think he’s going to end up playing a little bit down in Lakeland before he jumps right back into the upper levels and gets back into his season. We would like to get him healthy. The healthier he is, the more he becomes an option as a bat for us.”
Clemens, 25, went 2-for-5 with one triple in his lone appearance for Toledo. He is expected to return to the Mud Hens in less than a week.
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.