Detroit Tigers right-hander Michael Pineda avoids surgery on broken finger

Detroit Free Press

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Detroit Tigers right-hander Michael Pineda will not need surgery on his broken right middle finger.

“Not as of right now,” manager A.J. Hinch said.

The 33-year-old is scheduled to be re-evaluated in two or three weeks.

“He needs to rest for a few weeks,” Hinch said. “He’s going to have a mini-splint on, and then as pain subsides and swelling subsides, he’ll get checked and see if he can initiation a throwing program. If that’s all it is, that would be very encouraging.”

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Pineda requires roughly one month before his finger fully heals and he returns to the starting rotation, but since surgery appears unlikely, he should avoid a multi-month absence.

“The key time is in two to three weeks, whenever he gets re-examined, if he can start throwing then,” Hinch said. “With the plyo ball stuff that he can do, he won’t lose shoulder strength and won’t be too far behind. If it’s determined that he needs more time after that two or three weeks, then we’re talking about a longer stint.”

Pineda visited Dr. Douglas Carlan — a hand specialist in St. Petersburg, Florida — on Monday night to help the Tigers determine the next step in his treatment. Carlan, who confirmed a small fracture in Pineda’s finger, is a consultant for the Tigers, Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays.

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The injury occurred Saturday against the Baltimore Orioles. A line drive from Ramon Urias ricocheted off Pineda’s middle finger. After the play, the Tigers removed Pineda from his start with one out in the second inning.

On Sunday, the Tigers placed Pineda on the 15-day injured list.

“It’s good news that he didn’t have to have a pin put in there,” Hinch said. “It wasn’t in the joint, which is key. But it’s going to be a few weeks.”

Pineda, a nine-year MLB veteran, boasts a 3.22 ERA with four walks and 12 strikeouts across 22⅓ innings in five starts this season. He signed a one-year, $5.5 million contract with the Tigers in March.

Michael Fulmer: ‘I’m healthy’

Right-handed reliever Michael Fulmer has allowed five runs across four innings for an 11.25 ERA in his past four outings.

“I’m healthy,” Fulmer said. “Everything feels good.”

Opposing teams notched five hits and six walks with three strikeouts against him.

“It feels like it’s been a month-long thing,” Fulmer said. “I feel like it’s been 10 straight outings where I can’t get a guy out, but it’s been three out of four outings. … I’m not too worried about it.”

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Before May 7, Fulmer commanded a 21-game scoreless streak. He had the longest scoreless stretch for a Tigers pitcher since Al Alburquerque’s 22 games in the 2011 and 2012 seasons.

That day, the 29-year-old allowed two runs to the Houston Astros in the eighth inning, as the Tigers lost 3-2. In a 9-0 victory May 11, Fulmer tossed a scoreless eighth against the Oakland Athletics. He then allowed two runs May 12, again pitching the eighth, in a 5-3 loss.

“Something is a tick off,” Fulmer said. “I’ve walked a guy in all four of those outings. I don’t walk guys. You know something’s not particularly right, and you try to find what it is to fix everything else and hope it all works out.

“You just got to keep searching for it. I am trying to find it. Everything’s magnified, too, when you’re pitching in one-run games and tie games. It’s not as easy to work on it.”

Fulmer returned to the mound Monday and blew the Tigers’ one-run lead against the Rays in the eighth. In the top of the ninth, Harold Castro snapped the tie and saved the game with a solo home run.

His blast gave the Tigers a 3-2 win.

“I’d like to say I set that up for him,” Fulmer said.

Starters in Cleveland

The Tigers’ starting rotation features four arms: Eduardo Rodriguez, Tarik Skubal, Beau Brieske and Alex Faedo. Brieske and Faedo are rookies, while Rodriguez and Skubal have seven and three years in the majors, respectively.

“It’s nice to have fearlessness on the mound,” Hinch said of Brieske and Faedo. “They are young pitchers and are fighting for opportunities. The years here in Detroit have all been about the young pitching, and it’s always been Manning, (Casey) Mize and Skubal.

“And then Faedo raises his hand and says, ‘Remember me?’ And Brieske’s like, ‘You don’t have to come from the first round.’ There’s more coming when they get opportunities. Part of the chip on their shoulder is wanting to prove themselves and part of it is proving they can stay. That’s what key.”

Using Thursday’s off day to skip Pineda’s scheduled start, the Tigers will operate with those four pitchers in the rotation until right-hander Matt Manning (right shoulder inflammation) returns from the injured list.

Following the off day, the Tigers travel to clash with the Cleveland Guardians from Friday through Sunday at Progressive Field. Skubal starts Friday, followed by Faedo on Saturday and Brieske on Sunday.

“I’m very proud of him,” Hinch said of Faedo, who will make his fourth MLB start. “He’s hung in there and done everything we’ve asked and continues to give us a chance to win. He’ll have another challenge in five days.”

Manning is making his third and likely final rehab start Wednesday for Triple-A Toledo. If all goes as planned, he will rejoin the Tigers as a starter during the May 23-25 series against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field.

The return of Manning will complete the five-man rotation.

Injury updates

Right-handed reliever Jose Cisnero will throw off the mound Monday for the first time since being placed on the 60-day injured list. He is recovering from a right shoulder strain.

The Tigers put Cisnero on the injured list April 6.

Righty reliever Kyle Funkhouser has not been cleared to start his throwing program. He also landed on the injured list April 6, diagnosed with a right shoulder strain. Both Cisnero and Funkhouser worked as high-leverage relievers last season.

Prospect promotions

The Tigers promoted right-hander Wilmer Flores to Double-A Erie and righty Garrett Hill to Triple-A Toledo. Flores and Hill are the organization’s Nos. 15 and 26 prospects, respectively, according to MLB Pipeline.

For High-A West Michigan, Flores posted a 1.83 ERA with two walks and 35 strikeouts over 19⅔ innings in six games (five starts). He will start Thursday for the SeaWolves.

For Erie, Hill flashed a 2.25 ERA with seven walks and 43 strikeouts across 28 innings in six starts. Hill could make his MLB debut whenever the Tigers need another starting pitcher from the Mud Hens.

He had a 66.3% strike rate in Double-A.

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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