Detroit — The Tigers on Saturday pulled right-hander Casey Mize off his rehab assignment with Triple-A Toledo and placed him back on the injured list.
Part of the decision was based on logistics and part of it was because he was still feeling discomfort in his right elbow.
“Casey is going back to Lakeland,” manager AJ Hinch said before the game against the Orioles. “We’re going to slow him down a little bit. We’re treating the symptoms. He still doesn’t quite feel like he can let it go full-throttle, so we need to dial it back a little bit.”
Mize, out since April 14 with right elbow sprain, only got two outs in his first rehab start on Thursday, giving up four hits and three runs.
“When I say we’re sending him back to Lakeland, it’s because Toledo is going to Indianapolis and he’s not going to make his next start,” Hinch said. “So we’ll get him back to Lakeland and pick up his bullpens and make sure he’s more ready for competition before we get him back out there.
“He’s not shut down. The phrase would be that he’s being sent back to Lakeland to continue his rehab.”
Another phrase would be, in an abundance of caution. The Tigers aren’t taking any chances, especially with this type of injury.
“An elbow sprain is different from a lot of injuries,” Hinch said. “We’re going to be very slow with this. We’re not going to work backwards from any sort of timeline Casey wants to meet or that we want to meet. We’re just going to treat the symptoms.
“The fact that he’s not letting it go and not feeling 100%, we’re not going to let him pitch.”
Lefty Tyler Alexander has the same injury and was put on the injured list retroactive to April 30. He’s also in Lakeland but hasn’t begun throwing yet — at least not a baseball. He’s been doing work with medicine balls and plyo balls.
The news was better regarding a third injured starting pitcher. Matt Manning (shoulder inflammation) took a big step toward a return Friday night, throwing 3⅔ innings, 57 pitches, for the Mud Hens. He allowed a run on two hits with four strikeouts.
“We had a pretty hard line on 60 pitches for him,” Hinch said. “Sounds like he felt good. His stuff was the same as it was previously (before the injury). He will make another start (with Toledo) in five days and hopefully get over that five-inning threshold and 70 to 80 pitches.”
Once he clears that with no issues, he would likely be in position to be activated.
Outfielder Victor Reyes is on track to rejoin the team, perhaps for the series in Tampa starting Monday. Out since April 23 with a quad strain, Reyes has been destroying Triple-A pitching (7-for-14 with two home runs).
“He’s swinging it great and he’s running great,” Hinch said. “He’s answered everything we need to see. I expect him back pretty quickly.”
Reyes’ return will force a difficult roster decision for Hinch and general manager Al Avila. The likely position-player candidates to be optioned back to Toledo would be Derek Hill, Willi Castro or Harold Castro.
They could also send back a pitcher.
Another possibility would be if outfielder Austin Meadows wasn’t fully recovered from his bout of vertigo that kept him out of the lineup for three games in Houston and the first two games against the Orioles.
Meadows, though, was back at the park Saturday and was expected to go through a full pregame workout.
“He feels a lot better,” Hinch said. “I think he got the medication right. We hope he can be available at some point in the game if we need him as a pinch-hitter. We’re going to pencil him into the lineup for tomorrow.”
Around the horn
So what exactly was Javy Báez thinking Friday night, standing in the batter’s box watching his high fly ball hook near the foul pole in left even as the third base umpire signaled fair ball? He was thinking that he knew it was foul.
“That wasn’t a pimp job,” Hinch said. “He wasn’t showing up the pitcher. … Javy saw it better than anyone. He wasn’t going to run because he didn’t see that there was a need. He was just mad he had to run around the bases for no reason (laughing).”
… Hinch reiterated Saturday that lefty Gregory Soto is still the club’s closer, despite a couple of erratic outings.
“Gregory is going to pitch at the end of games,” he said. “That doesn’t mean every game he’s going to enter will be a clean ninth inning with a chance for a save.”
… The Tigers beat the Orioles Friday night despite issuing seven walks and two hit batsmen. That was just the third time since 1997 they’ve won a game with at least seven walks and no more than six hits.
… Note the 1:40 p.m. start time for the game Sunday. With MLB’s partnership with the Peacock network, Sunday games for the next two months will start 20 minutes later to honor their exclusive window for their broadcasts.
Orioles at Tigers
First pitch: 1:40 p.m. Sunday, Comerica Park, Detroit
RHP Tyler Wells (1-2, 3.75), Orioles: A strike-thrower who uses a mix of change-ups, sliders and curveballs off a 93-94 mph four-seam fastball, he’s been on a good run. Over his last three starts he’s allowed four earned runs in 16 innings, with opponents hitting .203 and slugging .288 with 11 strikeouts.
LHP Tarik Skubal (2-2, 2.94), Tigers: Take out his hiccup at Target Field last month and over his last four starts he’s allowed just two earned runs with 27 strikeouts and three walks covering 24⅔ innings. He pitched seven shutout, three-hit innings against Oakland in his last start to stop the club’s six-game losing streak.