Detroit Tigers manager A.J. Hinch has been checking in with right-hander Michael Lorenzen and counting down the time — 48 hours to go, 24 hours to go — with the veteran pitcher over the past couple days.
“It’s been a long wait for him,” Hinch said of Lorenzen, who suffered a left groin strain in spring training and missed the beginning of the regular season. “We’re closing in on getting him out there.”
The wait is almost over.
“I’m excited,” Lorenzen said.
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Lorenzen will be activated from the injured list and start Saturday for the Tigers in the second of three games against the San Francisco Giants at Comerica Park. He signed a one-year, $8.5 million contract in the offseason and feels prepared, both mentally and physically, to wear the Old English “D” for the first time.
“I’ve had to learn some patience, but it’s been good,” Lorenzen said. “There’s stuff that I still need to work on constantly, so I’m really hammering that in and getting my mind right to pitch a big-league game and attack hitters the way I know I should. We’re done with the training. We’re done working on stuff. It’s time to compete and win baseball games.”
The 31-year-old pitched for Triple-A Toledo in a rehab assignment last Saturday. He allowed four runs on two hits and three walks with two strikeouts across 2⅓ innings, throwing 31 of 56 pitches for strikes. Too many walks have been an issue throughout his career.
The Tigers need him to throw strikes.
“What we’d like to see out of him is being an efficient pitcher who challenges the strike zone,” Hinch said. “Not just against the Giants, but in general. When he becomes a dominant strike-thrower, he’s going to find success because he’s got so many different pitches and so many different options that he can use.”
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The opposing pitcher for Saturday’s game is Giants right-hander Anthony DeSclafani. Lorenzen and DeSclafani were teammates from 2015-20 with the Cincinnati Reds. They’ve already been trash-talking.
“I told him he’s lucky I’m not hitting,” Lorenzen said.
Lorenzen posted a 4.24 ERA with 44 walks (10.7% walk rate) and 85 strikeouts (20.7% strikeout rate) across 97⅔ innings in 18 starts for the Los Angeles Angels last season. He pitched seven seasons for the Reds, from 2015-21, while also serving as a pinch-hitter and outfielder.
“I definitely want to take the ball and set the tone,” Lorenzen said, when asked about the Tigers’ 3-9 record. “That’s my job as a starting pitcher. That’s all our jobs as starting pitchers. I’m looking forward to getting that opportunity.”
He started three games for the Tigers in spring training before reporting groin tightness. He continued throwing, to an extent, and recovered quickly, but the Tigers took a cautious approach to getting him back into game action.
“I’ve felt pretty good for a while,” Lorenzen said. “It’s just the building back up that was the most difficult thing. They’re still getting to know me and how truthful I’m going to be with how I’m feeling, so they’re pulling the reins back a little bit, which is totally understandable.
“If there’s something going on, and I tweak something, now I’m out for a month and a half. The way we handled it was the perfect way to handle this situation with me being new to the team and knowing how much I want to compete. I’ve been feeling good for a long time, though.”
Austin Meadows returns to Comerica Park
Outfielder Austin Meadows — on the 10-day injured list with anxiety — returned to Comerica Park on Thursday for a solo workout. The 27-year-old showed up at Comerica Park on Friday for on-field practice with his teammates before the series opener against the Giants.
It’s unclear when he will return to games.
“We’ll continue to monitor his progress and see what’s next for him,” Hinch said. “We don’t have a plan set in place, other than this is a good sign that he’s able to get back to the ballpark and get some baseball work done.”
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The Tigers placed Meadows on the injured list last Saturday.
He hasn’t played in a game since the home opener on April 6.
“My understanding is he’s going to do as much as he feels like he can do,” Hinch said, “both outside here with (batting practice) and maybe some inside work with the trainers.”
No surgery for Manning
Right-hander Matt Manning — on the 15-day injured list with a right foot fracture — will not need surgery. The 25-year-old, who has a 4.63 ERA in 11⅔ innings this season, received multiple opinions from foot specialists about the fractured fifth metatarsal in his right foot.
The timetable for his return is unclear, but he is expected to throw while his foot heals. He was struck in the foot by a comebacker in Tuesday’s 9-3 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays.
“We’re going to be very thorough with reviews,” Hinch said, “whether it’s getting second or third opinions, or whatever we need to have a more well-rounded view of everyone, we’re going to be pretty proactive on that. Multiple opinions is better than one opinion.”
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Right-hander Beau Brieske — on the 15-day injured list with a right ulnar nerve entrapment — played catch Thursday for the first time since his hydrodissection procedure. The 25-year-old is scheduled to throw a bullpen by the middle of the next week.
Left-hander Tarik Skubal (left elbow sprain) is playing catch six times per week; right-hander Freddy Pacheco (right elbow sprain) is playing catch five times per week; righty Casey Mize (right elbow sprain, lumbar strain) is playing catch three times per week. All three pitchers are on the 60-day injured list.
Skubal has been completing high-intensity throwing sessions.
“Each day is structured with different distances,” Skubal said. “I don’t really know what they want to say. I don’t know what they don’t want me to say. I feel good. I feel really good.”
No Báez beef
Shortstop Javier Báez, who was benched before the third inning in Thursday’s 3-1 win, returned to the lineup Friday as the Tigers’ cleanup hitter. Hinch, as he does with wins and losses, put the situation in the rear-view mirror.
“I think Javy has been great about it,” Hinch said. “We got home last night and got into today ready to play. I don’t really see any reason to deal with it today. I hope the rest of our team understands that we’ve got to clean up the mental preparation and mental readiness on any given play. That was a team-wide issue more than a singular event. The message is pretty clear.”
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