Cleveland — Tigers manager AJ Hinch announced that left-handed starting pitcher Tarik Skubal had flexor tendon surgery Wednesday in Los Angeles.
The surgery was performed by specialist Dr. Neal ElAttrache.
“The procedure was exploratory in nature and they saw exactly what was ailing Tarik,” Hinch said. “This opens up questions on the timeline, but I have no idea.”
Former Tigers pitcher Matthew Boyd had the same surgery last September. He has only recently restarted his rehab assignment at Triple-A Tacoma. There is a chance he will be able to pitch out of the bullpen for the Mariners in September, but he won’t be able to return to the rotation until next year.
That doesn’t necessarily mean Skubal’s recovery would follow the same timeline.
“I don’t know if it’s the exact same, and I’d rather not guess on how similar or dissimilar that was to our situation,” Hinch said.
General recovery time is nine months, which means the Tigers will likely play the majority of the 2023 season without two of their top young arms — Skubal and Casey Mize, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery.
“Losing Tarik and Casey for any time has hurt our team and hurt our winning,” Hinch said. “But there’s a lot that has to happen before we start to assess where everybody fits in. There are different surgeries, different recoveries, different timelines.
“Those two are going to be a huge part of the Tigers when they are healthy, and I am going to make sure both of those guys know it.”
The flexor tendon runs from the forearm to the fingers in the inside (palm side) of the arm. Hinch said Dr. ElAttrache was optimistic Skubal would make a full recovery.
“We’re positive about it because we got some resolution and a definitive answer from one of the most trusted and well-respected doctors in the world,” Hinch said. “But it’s hard to use the word ‘optimistic’ when you have one of your best players go under a surgical procedure.
“From the reports, we do feel like the positive side is we have resolution and there is no longer curiosity as to what was causing the issue. I’m not a doctor; I’m a manager. But I like that there wasn’t any single event and all of a sudden there was a massive tear.”
Hinch said he didn’t know the details or the extent of the surgical procedure.
“When a respected doctor says it’s a successful surgery and he expects Tarik to make a perfect recovery, that’s good enough or me,” Hinch said.
Meadows not ready
The Austin Meadows saga continues, and not in a positive way.
Hinch said the 27-year-old outfielder has been pulled off his rehab assignment with Toledo. It’s the third time he’s started and couldn’t finish a rehab assignment.
“We’re going to re-evaluate him in Detroit on Friday,” Hinch said. “He doesn’t feel like he’s ready to compete at the Major League level. So we need to get him back and see him. There’s no update other than that.”
Hinch said they weren’t shutting Meadows down. He would still be doing baseball activities and trying to work through the soreness in his legs. But he won’t be eligible to restart any kind of rehab assignment for five days.
“There is more work for him to do before we throw him into competition,” Hinch said.
Meadows went on the injured list this time with Achilles tendon soreness in both ankles but has more recently described it as general soreness. He played four games with the Mud Hens and went 3-for-16, all singles.
Acquired from the Rays for infielder Isaac Paredes at the end of spring training, he’s played in just 36 games this season.
“I’m not disappointed in him at all,” Hinch said. “He’s trying to put his best foot forward, trying to get back and play and end the season on a positive note. It’s been frustrating for him and for all of us. Not having him available has been a missing piece in our lineup.
“But we have to take it step-by-step and day-by-day. There is a lot at stake for him and for us. It does us no good to activate him and make the roster look better on paper and have him not be able to answer the rigors of playing every day and performing every day at this level.”
In his final rehab start for the Mud Hens Wednesday, lefty Eduardo Rodriguez struck out 11 and covered six innings in 72 pitches — including an immaculate inning with nine pitches and three strikeouts.
“We spent significant time on the phone today and he’s doing great,” Hinch said. “He is preparing to start this weekend. He will be in Detroit (Thursday) and I will meet with him and plan a schedule of events. He will be activated Friday.”
If the schedule holds, Rodriguez, who has been on the restricted list since June 13, will make his return Sunday, dueling with the Angels and Shohei Ohtani.
“He sounded very ready to take the next step,” Hinch said. “And his stuff backed it up.”
Around the horn
Third baseman Jeimer Candelario was scratched from the starting lineup Wednesday. Hinch said he had a non-COVID illness. Kody Clemens got the start in his place.
… Willi Castro (wrist) was not in the starting lineup, but Hinch said he was available off the bench.