Detroit Tigers take ‘conservative’ approach with Tarik Skubal’s arm, Miguel Cabrera’s knee

Detroit Free Press

MINNEAPOLIS — The Detroit Tigers didn’t move left-hander Tarik Skubal to a different team before Tuesday’s trade deadline, but on Wednesday, the Tigers moved the 25-year-old to the injured list with left arm fatigue.

But really, Skubal is dealing with inflammation in his left forearm.

“We just have to be very, very conservative with these arm injuries,” manager A.J. Hinch said. “This one is alarming because it’s Tarik Skubal and what he means to the rotation, to the organization. There’s no sense in pushing him until he’s completely asymptomatic and not feeling the tightness that he’s feeling.”

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Skubal started Monday’s series opener against the Twins, but the Tigers pulled him from his 21st start after he completed five scoreless innings on 77 pitches. He allowed just three hits and two walks with four strikeouts. In the fifth inning, Skubal experienced a minimal (but noticeable) decrease in velocity.

Still, he wanted to make his next start.

“My plan is to make my next start,” Skubal said Monday. “I’m going to wake up tomorrow, see where I’m at and then obviously go from there. But my plan is to make the next start, assuming that I’m feeling good. I’m pretty optimistic about that.”

The Tigers decided otherwise.

FULMER TRADE: Tigers trade reliever Michael Fulmer to Minnesota Twins for pitching prospect

GROSSMAN TRADE: Tigers trade Robbie Grossman to Atlanta Braves for left-hander Kris Anglin

Placing Skubal — who underwent Tommy John surgery in 2016 at Seattle University — on the injured list allows one of the organization’s best young players to take time in his return and check in with numerous doctors.

“He wants the ball,” Hinch said. “He wants to pitch. It’s a tough conversation because he prides himself on posting every five, six days, but we took it out of his hands.”

Skubal was supposed to start Friday against the Tampa Bay Rays at Comerica Park. Instead, the Tigers will likely turn to right-hander Bryan Garcia. The ex-closer made his first MLB start last Friday against the Blue Jays in Toronto, allowing two runs across 3⅔ innings.

The Tigers have used 15 starters this season.

And the injuries keep piling on.

“We’re looking at all of it,” Hinch said. “If we had a quick fix solution, we would have already addressed it. But it’s pretty frustrating and very concerning, because it’s been a terrible year for our player health. Not all of it can be pinned on people or one thing, but we owe it to everybody to keep digging in on it. It’s been exhausting talking about it.”

Miguel Cabrera’s health

As for player health, 39-year-old Miguel Cabrera isn’t doing well.

Cabrera was diagnosed with a chronic right knee injury in 2019, though surgery wasn’t recommended. In recent weeks, Cabrera’s knee pain has flared up more often than normal and his production has plummeted.

“I’ve talked to him about playing time moving forward and trying to get him a few more regularly scheduled days off,” Hinch said. “We want to take some at-bats and give them to some guys. I may sprinkle in a few more off days and be careful with him.”

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The 20-year MLB veteran, owed $32 million for next season before his contract expires, posted a .308 batting average across 70 games through July 6, along with seven doubles and three home runs.

Since then, Cabrera is batting .132 with two doubles and one home run in his past 20 games. Oftentimes, he takes funky swings and can’t rotate his knee while trying to attack pitches in the batter’s box.

After playing 44 games at first base in 2021, Cabrera has played all of his 90 games this season as the team’s designated hitter. When the Tigers optioned first baseman Spencer Torkelson to Triple-A Toledo before the All-Star break, Hinch did not consider Cabrera as a candidate to play the infield in his absence.

“I don’t think it’s going to get a ton better,” Hinch said. “He can tolerate a lot. He has his good days; he has his bad days. I’m obviously very concerned at his age and how much he’s played. There’s no resolution other than fighting through it. I want him to be honest with us about his pain because it’s important that we don’t put him in more harm’s way. It just is what it is at this point of his career. We’re going to have to monitor it.”

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Other roster moves

As Skubal joined the injured list, the Tigers activated right-handed reliever Wily Peralta from the injured list.

The Tigers placed Peralta on the injured list July 6 with a left hamstring strain, but after he pitched back-to-back games Saturday and Sunday for Triple-A Toledo, the 33-year-old rejoined his teammates Monday.

Then, Peralta waited to be activated.

The Tigers also promoted outfielder Daz Cameron from Triple-A Toledo and optioned infielder Zack Short to the Mud Hens. Cameron, 25, has hit .249 with three home runs, 13 walks and 64 strikeouts in 53 games in Triple-A Toledo.

“Just to balance out the roster a little bit more,” Hinch said. “We’ve always gone back and forth on whether or not that extra spot on the bench is better suited for an infielder or an outfielder. Willi (Castro) and Kody (Clemens) are going to predominately be the backup infielders. Daz is going to balance us out in the outfield.”

Prospect promotions

The Tigers promoted four prospects: shortstop Izaac Pacheco from Low-A Lakeland to High-A West Michigan, right-hander Ty Madden from West Michigan to Double-A Erie, right-hander Austin Bergner from Erie to Triple-A Toledo and infielder Andre Lipcius from Erie to Toledo.

Lipcius, 24, hit .264 with 20 doubles, nine home runs, 61 walks and 56 strikeouts in 88 games for the SeaWolves. Bergner, 25, registered a 2.38 ERA with 31 walks and 93 strikeouts over 90⅔ innings in 19 starts for the SeaWolves.

Pacheco, 19, hit .267 with eight homers, 38 walks and 80 strikeouts in 88 games for the Flying Tigers in Lakeland. Madden, 22, had a 3.10 ERA with 26 walks and 84 strikeouts over 87 innings in 19 starts for the Whitecaps.

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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