DUNEDIN, Fla. — Detroit Tigers left-handed reliever Andrew Chafin will be sidelined for “at least a couple of days” with a groin injury that forced him to miss Wednesday’s game, manager AJ Hinch said.
Chafin showed up Thursday at the TigerTown complex in Lakeland for treatment. Outfielder Derek Hill, competing with Victor Reyes for a spot on the Opening Day roster, will be sidelined for a similar amount of time with a hamstring injury.
“I don’t know the extent right now,” Hinch said Thursday, “other than we’re going to wait at least a couple of days on both of them.”
Chafin, 31, reported groin tightness before Wednesday’s game against the Philadelphia Phillies in Clearwater. He was supposed to pitch out of the bullpen. Hill, 26, was removed from Wednesday’s contest with cramps.
“It’s sore. If you ever cramp up, it’s pretty sore the next day,” Hinch said of Hill’s injury. “That’s why we have to wait a couple of days to see if it’s soreness from that or if it’s a more intensive injury. He was pretty sore today.”
As for Chafin’s injury, Hinch said, “Chafin was sore but a little bit better. Now we’re caught in this gray area where we have to wait a couple days before we can proceed. Heading into the last week, it’s not ideal. But it’s our reality.”
Chafin signed a two-year, $13 million contract with the Tigers in mid-March and is expected to be an important high-leverage reliever in Hinch’s bullpen. He had a 1.83 ERA with 19 walks and 64 strikeouts in 71 relief appearances last season for the Chicago Cubs and Oakland Athletics.
Hinch isn’t ready to determine Chafin’s status for Opening Day.
“We’ll always have different plans, but until we get more information, it’s hard to speculate,” Hinch said. “I know he was optimistic today, which is a good first step, but I’ll be calming my enthusiasm until he’s actually back on the mound.”
He won’t rule out Hill, either.
“I think within 48 hours I’ll have a little more information because we start the downhill spring to the end of this camp,” Hinch said. “I don’t want to concede anything yet, but I would like our injury report to be player free.”
Michael Pineda: ‘Thank God’
For right-hander Michael Pineda, the 11 days he waited for his tourist visa to transfer to a work visa felt like an eternity. Pineda, stuck in limbo after signing a one-year, $5.5 million contract, couldn’t pitch for the Tigers in spring training games.
Now, Pineda can take the mound.
“I have good energy today,” Pineda said Thursday, after throwing a bullpen. “I’m excited. They approved my visa yesterday, so I’m happy. I tried to let it go (in my bullpen) today. It’s time to go, Big Mike.”
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Pineda won’t make the Tigers’ Opening Day roster.
The 33-year-old will start at least one game in Triple-A Toledo before joining the big-league starting rotation, which includes Eduardo Rodriguez, Casey Mize, Tarik Skubal and Matt Manning.
“I never pitched in Toledo,” Pineda said. “They said it’s close, 45 minutes. I was a little nervous the first time when they said, ‘Oh, you have to go to Toledo.’ I don’t know where Toledo is. But they said, ‘No, no, no. Toledo is 45 minutes (away from Detroit).’ It’s easy. I’m good with that.”
Pineda is scheduled to pitch two innings Saturday against the New York Yankees at Joker Marchant Stadium. He will enter out of the bullpen after Rodriguez completes his final spring training start.
The 33-year-old posted a 3.62 ERA with 21 walks and 88 strikeouts over 109⅓ innings in 22 games (21 starts) for the Minnesota Twins last season. He has a 3.98 ERA across his eight-year MLB career.