Shortstop Javier Baez expected to return this weekend for the Detroit Tigers

Detroit Free Press

Detroit Tigers shortstop Javier Báez is eligible to return from the injured list Saturday, after suffering right thumb soreness from twice jamming his finger.

He hasn’t played since April 12.

“We’ll see if it’s tomorrow,” Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said Friday. “If he’s activated, it could be Sunday. If it lingers any further, I guess it could be Tuesday. He’s doing everything and feeling better and better every day.”

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Baez, 29, went through on-field workouts Friday afternoon with Hinch, other coaches and the Tigers’ training staff at Comerica Park. He also completed running and hitting drills inside.

Due to Báez’s swollen thumb, he has appeared in five games for the Tigers this season. He is hitting .316 with a double, a home run, four RBIs, a walk and four strikeouts.

Báez landed on the injured list last Saturday, retroactive to April 13.

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“The last test is going to be a game,” Hinch said. “Can’t get into a game until we activate him. I’m hopeful that this series sometime we’ll see Javy.”

The Tigers play three games against the Colorado Rockies, from Friday through Sunday.

Beau Brieske to debut Saturday

Right-hander Beau Brieske, the 802nd overall pick in the 2019 draft, out of Division II Colorado State-Pueblo, will start Saturday for the Tigers against the Rockies in his MLB debut. He was originally scheduled to start in the afternoon, but Friday’s rainout and subsequent Saturday doubleheader will push his debut to the 6:40 p.m. game, with left-hander Tarik Skubal to start Game 1.

The 24-year-old is the Tigers’ No. 22 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline. Brieske won the organization’s minor-league pitcher of the year last season.

“I think his strike-throwing is very appealing, his mix of pitches is very good, his confidence with his changeup is good,” Hinch said. “Quite honestly, we know we’re going to need 10 or 12 starters throughout a year to get through 162 and try to win as many games as we can. When this spot came open, and even though it could be brief, it was a fairly easy decision for us to give him an opportunity.”

Brieske has made two starts for Triple-A Toledo this season, registering a 4.50 ERA with three walks and nine strikeouts in 10 innings. He was the most advanced minor-league pitcher in the Tigers’ minicamp before MLB spring training start.

He tossed for High-A West Michigan (13 starts) and Double-A Erie (eight starts) last year, putting up a combined 3.12 ERA with 23 walks and 116 strikeouts in 102⅔ innings.

“His mentality impressed us in the spring,” Hinch said. “His confidence has never wavered. The only thing he hasn’t done yet in his career is pitch in the big leagues. We’re about to answer that question.”

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Victor Reyes to 10-day IL

The Tigers placed Victor Reyes on the 10-day injured list with a left quad strain.

Detroit has six players on the 10-day injured list: Reyes, Báez (right thumb soreness), Casey Mize (right elbow sprain), Matt Manning (right shoulder inflammation), Andrew Chafin (left groin strain) and Kyle Funkhouser (right shoulder strain).

“It’s not a very bad injury,” Reyes said, with Tigers bilingual media coordinator Carlos Guillen interpreting. “I can play, but I’m not 100% (healthy). … Obviously, I’m disappointed, but I know that it’s for my own good.”

To replace Reyes, the Tigers called up Derek Hill from Triple-A Toledo.

“I didn’t even get a call,” Hill said. “Lloyd (McClendon, Toledo manager) brought me into the office — short and to the point. I was about to go back out for early work, and they told me I was going up. I packed everything up and shot up here.”

Hill didn’t get a chance to make the Tigers’ Opening Day roster, as he started the season on the 10-day injured list with a right hamstring strain. He played his first rehab assignment game for Low-A Lakeland on April 15, then was transferred Tuesday to the Mud Hens.

For Toledo, Hill went 0-for-9 with one RBI, two walks and three strikeouts in three games.

“I feel really good,” Hill said. “I got off to a little bit of a slow start down in Lakeland. It’s tough to have an approach with the young cats and everything, but I got up to Triple-A and felt pretty good.”

Through 10 games, Reyes is hitting .261 (6-for-23) with one double, one triple, four RBIs, two walks and four strikeouts. He has three hits in his past two games, including a double in Thursday’s 3-0 win over the New York Yankees.

Reyes grounded into a force out in the third inning, then scored from first base on Robbie Grossman’s double in the third inning, putting the Tigers ahead 1-0.

“When I ran from first base to home plate, that’s when I felt it could be getting worse,” Reyes said.

He later doubled in the eighth inning, advanced to third on Grossman’s single and was thrown out at home plate on Jeimer Candelario’s double-play groundout back to the pitcher.

Still, Reyes played the entire game.

“Yesterday was kind of the final decision-making game,” Hinch said, “but he’s been battling this for a little bit. He hasn’t quite looked like himself. We tried to play through it. I sat him a day or two. He just didn’t look comfortable running. We can’t afford this to linger too long.”

Andrew Chafin pitches in Lakeland

Along with Báez, another member of the Tigers’ injured list could return soon. Chafin, recovering from a left groin strain, began his rehab assignment for Low-A Lakeland on Thursday.

Chafin traveled to Triple-A Toledo on Friday and will pitch Sunday. The Tigers aren’t yet sure if the lefty reliever needs one outing or multiple outings for the Mud Hens before joining the big leagues.

“All things were fine,” Hinch said. “I think he said to Doug (Teter, athletic trainer), his arm feels just like it normally does when he leaves spring training for the regular season. I think he’s doing fine.”

Chafin, 31, pitched one scoreless inning, allowing one hit without a walk or strikeout. His sinker averaged 87.8 mph, but last season, this pitch registered at a 92.1 mph average. He mixed all his pitches for the Flying Tigers, using six sinkers, two sliders and two four-seam fastballs.

Contact Evan Petzold at or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold. Read more on the Detroit Tigers and sign up for our Tigers newsletter.

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