Detroit — There was at least a glimmer of hope that right-hander Matt Manning might be getting closer to rejoining the rotation, maybe even by next week.
The jury is still out on that possibility now.
Manning, recovering from shoulder inflammation, made his third rehab start for Triple-A Toledo Thursday and was pulled from the game in the third inning.
“It was nothing arm- or shoulder-related,” general manager Al Avila said Thursday. “He was light-headed and did not feel well.”
That it wasn’t a reaggravation of the shoulder pain was good news for the Tigers. Still, the fact he only threw 49 pitches (just 22 strikes) and didn’t finish the third inning doesn’t bode well for making a start in Minneapolis next week.
Manning’s fastball was clocking at 90-91 mph, under his normal 93-97 velocity, and he couldn’t command his pitches. He walked three and hit a batter in two-plus innings.
As badly as the Tigers need starters, it doesn’t seem prudent to rush him right now. Manager AJ Hinch talked about being patient with Manning before the series in Tampa.
“We will make the best decision for Matty,” Hinch said. “We need to make sure he’s good. It might feel better to write his name on the card, but if he’s not ready to compete at this level, or he’s not ready to go deeper into games, then you can start chasing your tail a little bit.”
The Tigers are expected to put lefty Eduardo Rodriguez on the injured list before the game in Cleveland Friday. He left his start in Tampa Wednesday after just 23 pitches, complaining of soreness in his left side.
“It’s something that you never want to happen,” Rodriguez said. “But it happens. Starting pitchers want to be out there every five days. It’s tough.”
Lefty Tarik Skubal is now the only member of the original rotation still active.
Casey Mize and Tyler Alexander are out because of elbow sprains. Mize had a setback last week and was pulled off his rehab assignment. Alexander is still just throwing on flat ground.
Manning has been out since April 17.
Michael Pineda is also on the injured list after breaking his right middle finger when he was hit with a liner last Saturday.
Rookies Beau Brieske and Alex Faedo have been thrust into the rotation. Another rookie, Joey Wentz, made a spot start earlier this month and the Tigers have made one bullpen start, using Wily Peralta as the opener.
They will need two new starting pitchers in the Minnesota series next week, on Tuesday and Wednesday. There was hope that Manning could be activated for Wednesday. That looks doubtful now.
“We’ve got to figure it out,” Hinch said Wednesday. “Nobody is going to feel sorry for us.”
Wentz is one option to start in the Minnesota series. His next turn in the rotation would be Tuesday. Another option on the 40-man roster is right-hander Elvin Rodriguez, who last started on Sunday.
Tigers at Guardians
Series: Three games at Progressive Field
First pitch: Friday – 7:10 p.m.; Saturday – 6:10 p.m.; Sunday – 1:40, p.m.
Probables: Friday – LHP Tarik Skubal (3-2, 2.50) vs. RHP Aaron Civale (1-3, 9.85); Saturday – RHP Alex Faedo (0-1, 2.87) vs. RHP Shane Bieber (1-2, 3.72); Sunday – RHP Beau Brieske (0-3, 5.13) vs. RHP Triston McKenzie (2-3, 2.97).
Skubal, Tigers: How dominant has he been this month? In three May starts, he’s allowed two runs in 19 innings with 25 strikeouts and five walks. He hasn’t allowed a run in 14 straight innings. Opponents in May are hitting .182 and slugging .318 against him. Ace emerging.
Civale, Guardians: Rough times. He’s given up the most earned runs in baseball (27), including 22 over his last four outings. Against his cutter, which used to be his money pitch, hitters are slugging .720. The velocity is down 2 mph, from 88 to 86. The opponent slash-line against him is ugly: .330/.388/.594 with a .983 OPS.