Detroit — Baseball can be a cruel business at times.
Shortly before 4 p.m. Friday, Tigers manager AJ Hinch summoned veteran pitcher Wily Peralta into his office and notified him that he was being designated for assignment.
“He’s a pro’s pro,” Hinch said. “You hate doing that with anyone, but doing it with a guy like Wily Peralta is even tougher.”
The move was made to clear spots on both the 40-man and active rosters for starting pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez, who was reinstated off the restricted list and will start on Sunday.
Hinch said, too, that starting pitchers Daniel Norris and Garrett Hill would be moving to the bullpen for at least the rest of the month while the Tigers deploy a four-man rotation.
“We’re going to give Wily a chance to pitch somewhere else while we look at some guys who are more likely to be here (next season),” Hinch said. “Hill specifically.”
Hill, including his starts at Double-A Erie and Triple-A Toledo, has thrown 112 innings this season. That after throwing 75.2 innings in 2021. Moving him to the bullpen, Hinch said, allows the club to restrict his workload while still letting him develop at the big-league level.
“I hesitate to call him a reliever,” Hinch said. “Garrett is a young pitcher who has really developed. I told him, usually you don’t do this after arguably your best start. But where we’re at in the season and where he’s at — he’s answered every question that we’ve had about where he fits.”
Hinch said Hill would be used in a swing role. He would try to avoid bringing him in with runners on base or pitching him in back-to-back games.
“Just restrictions we put on ourselves to have him stay up here at this level,” Hinch said. “We think him being up here with (pitching coaches) Chris Fetter and Juan Nieves and being at the Major League level is something he’s earned.
“And it’s also something that will be more beneficial if he fits on the club next year.”
Still, it was a surprise that Peralta was the one to go. Jose Cisnero is still building back up after nearly four months on the injured list and he has a minor-league option left. The Tigers also could conceivably have moved Rony Garcia to the 60-day injured list, which would have cleared a spot on the 40-man roster.
But increasingly it seemed, Peralta was one of the few — maybe the only reliever — who didn’t have a clear role.
“It was a very difficult conversation and he handled it like a pro,” Hinch said. “He didn’t do anything wrong. He was a solid reliever for us after a solid season as a starter last year. But this time of year, you have to make tough decisions if you want to take a look at a different group of pitchers.”
Peralta made 18 starts last season and pitched in 28 games out of the bullpen this season with a 2.58 ERA and a high 1.5 WHIP.
“I wasn’t using him in a role that made sense for the next six weeks,” Hinch said. “This gives us the option of moving a couple of different guys up and down in that role over the next six weeks — maybe some guys on the roster, maybe some guys off the roster.”
Hinch wouldn’t name names, but it’s conceivable the club would want to use September to take longer looks at pitchers like Joey Wentz, Luis Castillo, Elvin Rodriguez and Angel De Jesus, who have pitched this season. Also, a pitcher like Reese Olson who will have to be put on the 40-man this winter if they want to protect him from the Rule 5 draft.
Harold Castro was not in the lineup Friday, mostly because the Angles started left-hander Patrick Sandoval. But there was still some concern about his left thumb, which he jammed Wednesday night in Cleveland.
“He says he’s ready to go,” Hinch said. “He even declined treatment on the off day. But when you come out of a game like that and you take that awkward swing and have the awkward catch, you have to do more than just saying, ‘I feel better,’ to play.”
Castro was expected to go through a battery of baseball activity before the game.
“My guess is he’s going to be fine,” Hinch said. “But we need to be stronger in our return-to-play aspects.”
Around the horn
… The Angels announced before the game that Mike Trout was being activated off the injured list. Trout had been out since July 12 because of an upper-back and ribcage injury.
Angels at Tigers
First pitch: 1:10 Saturday, Comerica Park
TV/radio: Bally Sports Detroit/97.1.
LHP Reid Detmers (4-3, 3.45), Angels: He’s been on quite a roll. Over his last six starts, he’s posted a 1.50 ERA, holding hitters to a .197 average and a meek .262 slug. He has a lot of success with his slider (.149 opponent average) and curveball (.191) throwing them off a 93 mph four-seam fastball.
LHP Tyler Alexander (2-7, 3.78), Tigers: He’s allowed three runs or less in four starts since rejoining the rotation, but teams are starting to stack their lineups with right-handed hitters. Normally, his changeup is a key neutralizer against righties, but this year, they are hitting .364 against it with a .523 slug. He’s had to stick to a steady diet of cutters, four-seam fastballs and sinkers.