Wobbly start can’t curb Tigers’ enthusiasm about Turnbull’s progress

Detroit News

Lakeland, Fla. – Spencer Turnbull did not even try to sugarcoat it.

“I did not have my best stuff today,” he said.

He did not. And yet, his sinker still hit 96 mph and it was dancing to the tune of eight called strikes.

But Turnbull wasn’t looking for or accepting silver linings after giving up three runs, including a homer to Bryson Stott to start the game, and six hits in the Tigers’ 10-1 spring loss to the Phillies in the first night game at Joker Marchant Stadium since 2013.

“The four-seam (fastball) was really off,” Turnbull said. “That was a struggle. The command wasn’t there and it wasn’t cutting the same. I gave up a lot of hits on it that normally would get off the barrel.”

The home run was a perfect example. On a 2-1 pitch, Turnbull wanted the four-seamer to be up and in on the left-handed hitting Stott. But it didn’t have the same late life and ended up in the middle of the plate, belt high.

“My mechanics were off,” he said. “I wasn’t feeling synced up. I’d felt great until tonight. Tonight, I felt like I was searching and I couldn’t quite find it. Normally I can find it…I was trying to muscle up with my arm instead of getting my power from my lower half.”

It was Turnbull’s third spring start and the volume of work was, at this stage, more important than the results. He threw 51 pitches in his three innings than went to the bullpen and threw another 15 pitches.

“I’ll get this figured out,” he said. “I’m going to have bad days, just hopefully they are few and far between.”

Turnbull will have two more starts before he makes his first regular season start, which will most likely be against the Astros in Houston – though that is not etched in stone.

“I think he’s exactly where he needs to be, health-wise, for where we are in camp,” manager AJ Hinch said. “If you would’ve told me at the beginning of camp that this is where he’d be physically, I’d be thrilled.”

Two sides of Garrett Hill

Right-hander Garrett Hill, who is in the thick of the bullpen battle, pitched a clean eighth and a messy ninth. And all his trouble started once he had to work out of the stretch.

He got two strikeouts in the eighth. His sinker was sitting at 96 mph, 4.5 mph firmer than his average velocity last season, with 119 more rpms of spin. His slider, too, was sharper – 86.5 mph (up 4 mph) with 144 more rpms of spin.

In the ninth, though, after giving up a slicing double, he hit two batters and then gave up a first-pitch three-run homer to minor-league camper Cade Fergus on a 93-mph fastball. His fastball velocity in the ninth, working out of the stretch, was 93-94 and he was losing command to the arm side.

“I don’t think it’s (working from the stretch),” Hinch said. “I think those balls were supposed to be in and they leaked and hit those guys. But I think he’s comfortable.”

Around the horn

… Right-hander Trey Wingenter pitched a 16-pitch scoreless inning with two strikeouts. His four-seam fastball was sitting at 96 mph and his slider was at 86 mph. “He’s been impressive,” Hinch said. “We have to keep him holding up and bouncing back similar to Turnbull. We don’t talk about his health but he’s dealt with a ton the last couple of years, too. Where he’s at physically is a good sign.” Wingenter has had two surgeries since 2019.

… Reliever Jason Foley gave up a pair of homers in the fourth – a solo shot by Jim Haley and a two-run opposite-field blast by Darick Hall.

… The Tigers only got three hits off Phillies starter Zack Wheeler in 4.1 innings. Two of them were by former Phillies infielder Nick Maton.

… Former Tiger Kody Clemens ripped a two-run single off Turnbull in the third inning.


Twitter: @cmccosky

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