Detroit Tigers still figuring out Eduardo Rodriguez injury issue

Detroit Free Press

CLEVELAND — The Detroit Tigers don’t know exactly what’s wrong with left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez.

The 29-year-old exited Wednesday’s start with one out in the first inning, after throwing 23 pitches, due to left-side discomfort. The Tigers were concerned about Rodriguez’s oblique and intercostal muscles, so they went through the MRI process.

Still, there’s nothing conclusive.

“I know it’s his left side,” manager A.J. Hinch said Friday, before the series opener against the Cleveland Guardians at Progressive Field. “The only way he’s going to test it is by throwing. We’ve got a tricky, slippery slope where we have to be careful when to do that.”

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On Thursday’s off day, Rodriguez visited a doctor in South Florida. The Tigers view the uncertainty of Rodriguez’s diagnosis as a good omen, but there’s a caveat with every unknown.

“The initial review is very positive, that it’s minimal sign of trauma or any issue,” Hinch said. “The nerve-wracking part is that there’s no sign of trauma.”

Rodriguez is still likely to land on the injured list, as Hinch initially explained after Wednesday’s loss to the Tampa Bay Rays, but the Tigers haven’t officially made the roster move.

“We haven’t definitely decided yet,” Hinch said. “We’re going to talk to him. We’re having our doctors review it.”

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In 2022, Rodriguez has a 4.38 ERA with 17 walks and 34 strikeouts across 39 innings in eight starts. Hinch said Rodriguez experienced a similar left-side tweak last season, while pitching for the Boston Red Sox.

“He then came back and threw three innings, then he threw five innings,” Hinch said. “I’m not sure we have the luxury to ramp him that way in the big leagues without a break.”

Matt Manning injury update

Right-hander Matt Manning, recovering from right shoulder inflammation, will make a fourth rehab start for Triple-A Toledo. The 24-year-old left his third rehab start Thursday in the third inning because of dehydration.

“No issue whatsoever with his arm,” Hinch said.

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Manning has emphasized to Hinch and pitching coach Chris Fetter that his arm is completely healthy. He will make a next start for Toledo, likely Tuesday. After that, the Tigers consider bringing him back into the starting rotation.

He will not be activated for the upcoming three-game series, from Monday-Wednesday, against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field. The Tigers previously expected to get him back for Tuesday’s game.

“We’ll have him throw again in Triple-A, just to make sure,” Hinch said. “It does push him back another time through the rotation.”

The Tigers sent Manning to the injured list April 20.

Pitching rotation sees changes

Rookie right-hander Beau Brieske was supposed to start Sunday against the Guardians, but the Tigers pushed his start back to Monday, meaning he will face the Minnesota Twins in the series opener at Target Field.

That also means the Tigers need starting pitchers for Sunday and Tuesday.

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The team has five injured starters: Rodriguez, Manning, Michael Pineda (right middle finger fracture), Tyler Alexander (left elbow sprain) and Casey Mize (right elbow sprain), not including Spencer Turnbull (Tommy John surgery).

“Every day is a test,” Hinch said. “It’s part of it. Injuries happen. We’ve been hit pretty hard in one specific are of our team, and that’s concerning because that was a very stable part of our team coming into the season.”

Triple-A starters Elvin Rodriguez and Ricardo Pinto joined the Tigers in Cleveland as members of the traveling taxi squad. Rodriguez, who made his MLB debut April 10, is a candidate to start Sunday.

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

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