Ex-Tiger Matthew Boyd’s career could continue after surgery in Detroit, ‘my second home’

Detroit Free Press

Former Detroit Tigers pitcher Matthew Boyd sat in the visitor’s dugout before Tuesday’s game. He reflected on his last appearance at Comerica Park, a late September drop-by before traveling to Dallas for flexor tendon surgery.

Boyd, who pitched seven seasons for the Tigers, looked forward to his post-surgery career, which begins this week as a member of the Seattle Mariners. The 31-year-old, whose hometown team is the Mariners, will be active on the roster for Thursday’s series finale and could make his season debut against the Tigers.

“The last time I was here, I was leaving to go get surgery,” Boyd said. “It’s a weird experience, but I’m so grateful to be here. Detroit is a second home. It always will be, so it’s been fun seeing familiar faces.”

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The Mariners, in the thick of an American League wild card chase, have a 21-year postseason drought on the line; Boyd is expected to help out of the bullpen, even though he has started 145 of 149 games in his career.

“Getting outs in the name of the game,” Boyd said. “That’s my role, to get outs wherever they ask me to do it, whether it’s the first, the ninth or anywhere in between. I’ll do what I’m asked of, and I know as days go on, I’m going to get better at it.”

Of his 149 games, Boyd played 147 of them with the Tigers from 2015-21. The Tigers acquired him from the Toronto Blue Jays in the 2015 David Price trade. Seven years later, a rehabbing Boyd was non-tendered by the Tigers on Nov. 30 and became a free agent for the first time in his career.

He had a 3.89 ERA in 15 starts last season.

Boyd signed a one-year, $5.2 million contract with the San Francisco Giants in March. He continued rehabbing but never pitched in a game for the organization. A setback — discomfort in his left elbow — occurred during his live batting practice in June. Before the trade deadline in August, the Giants traded Boyd (and catcher Curt Casali) to the Mariners.

“It was shocking,” Boyd said. “I thought there was a 0% chance that someone that hadn’t pitched all year would get traded. It was emotional. It was emotional for me, emotional for my wife and emotional for my parents. … It’s a dream come true to get the chance to put on the Mariner uniform.”

That’s how Boyd, born on Mercer Island in Washington, ended up pitching for the team he grew up watching.

And the ex-Tiger is eager for his first postseason appearance.

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“I get to play for my hometown team,” Boyd said. “This is just unreal. I dreamed about putting on this uniform. I’m getting chills thinking about it. I get to come to an amazing ballclub with an amazing staff and amazing guys, and I get to help be a small part of this winning organization right now.

“So, would I change a thing? No.”

Jonathan Schoop’s progress

Before Wednesday’s game, second baseman Jonathan Schoop — on the injured list with a right ankle sprain — went through agility drills, fielding drills and batting practice at Comerica Park. Athletic trainer Doug Teter monitored his activity.

Schoop, 30, appears healthy, but the Tigers want to send him on a rehab assignment before he returns to the big leagues. He has been sidelined since Aug. 20, when he suffered the ankle injury while trying to avoid a tag at home plate.

“He wants to go out pretty soon,” manager A.J. Hinch said. “Hopefully this weekend we can get him out to an affiliate.”

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Schoop is tentatively scheduled to join High-A West Michigan for a couple games before transitioning to Triple-A Toledo. He is unlikely to join the Tigers for the series against the Angels (Sept. 5-7) in Los Angeles but could be activated for the series against the Royals (Sept. 9-11) in Kansas City.

“But we got to get him out first before we dream of a reinstatement,” Hinch said.

Schoop, a Gold Glove-caliber second baseman, is batting .202 with nine home runs, 15 walks and 99 strikeouts in 115 games this season. He has a $7.5 million player option for 2023 and is expected to return to the Tigers.

Eduardo Rodriguez’s velocity

Left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez has started two games for the Tigers since coming off the restricted list. His four-seam fastball averaged 91 mph in both starts. Last season, though, Rodriguez sat around 93 mph.

The 29-year-old isn’t concerned.

“I went a long time without throwing,” Rodriguez said. “I feel like I’m still building up velocity. The rest, everything is fine. My location and everything else is right where I want it. The velocity is the only one that I really feel like it’s not 100% there yet.”

In two starts, Rodriguez has a 0.82 ERA with six walks and seven strikeouts over 11 innings. He said he feels comfortable commanding all five pitches: four-seam fastball, cutter, changeup, two-seam fastball and slider.

“It doesn’t surprise me because body-wise, I feel really good,” Rodriguez said. “The only thing that I really need to get better is the velocity.”

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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