Detroit Tigers’ Tarik Skubal to face hitters in Detroit; Casey Mize suffers back soreness

Detroit Free Press

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — After completing his eighth bullpen, Tarik Skubal wasn’t sure if the Detroit Tigers would allow him to reveal how many pitches he threw Tuesday at Kauffman Stadium.

“I don’t know if I’m supposed to say that,” Skubal said.

Skubal, rehabbing from left flexor tendon surgery, deferred to manager A.J. Hinch for the pitch-count inquiry, but the 26-year-old put a lighthearted spin on the Tigers’ continued secrecy about his workload in his throwing progression.

“More than a few but not a ton,” Skubal said, laughing.

“You can put my name by that quote,” Hinch said, when he heard about Skubal’s response. “That’s actually pretty creative. Very rarely will I take something the player says and claim it as my own, but that one I can.”

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The Tigers didn’t share Skubal’s pitch count in his eighth bullpen, though Hinch said the latest session was “really light,” but the Tigers had bigger news to reveal: Skubal, arguably the best pitcher in the organization, will throw a live batting practice later this week at Comerica Park.

He is getting closer to a rehab assignment.

“I’m all good,” Skubal said. “The bullpen went well.”

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During Tuesday’s bullpen, Andy Ibáñez walked to the bullpen and stood in the batter’s box while wearing his helmet. The 30-year-old, who has three of his 13 hits off left-handed pitchers, is stuck in an 0-for-24 slump with zero walks and six strikeouts across six games.

He wanted to track pitches from Skubal.

“He loves that, and he does it every inning if you watch him coming out of the dugout,” Hinch said. “And Andy’s not swinging the bat particularly well. I think he’s getting a little anxious at the plate, and that was a little part of his (pregame) prep. Michael (Brdar, hitting coach) told me he went out there, which probably tells me a few things about Andy.”

Skubal has a 4.15 ERA with 90 walks (7.2% walk rate) and 318 strikeouts (25.5% strikeout rate) across 299 innings in his 60-game MLB career, which spans parts of three seasons. The Tigers selected him in the ninth round of the 2018 draft.

Setback for Casey Mize

Right-hander Casey Mize, rehabbing from a right elbow sprain and a lumbar strain, experienced mild low back soreness following his last throwing session.

The 26-year-old — who underwent back surgery after completing elbow surgery last season — recently increased his throwing from three times per week to four times. He had Tommy John surgery in June 2022 to repair the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow.

“Things are going to come up from time to time,” Hinch said. “We’ll address them and continue to take steps forward.”

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Mize, the 2018 No. 1 overall pick, won’t throw for the remainder of the week in hopes of resuming his throwing program soon. The rest week was previously scheduled, according to the Tigers’ medical report, as part of his return-to-play progression.

“I’ve been dealing with the (back) issue for a long time,” Mize said Feb. 15 in spring training, when the Tigers disclosed his back surgery. “I would say years. It’s something that’s gradually gotten worse over time. We had a unique opportunity within having Tommy John surgery to tackle this. There was an available time for it to be done, so we decided to get everything better. That way, when I’m back, I can be the best player I can be and completely healthy.”

Mize hasn’t pitched for the Tigers since April 14, 2022. He has a 4.29 ERA with 56 walks (7.1% walk rate) and 148 strikeouts (18.7% strikeout rate) across 188⅔ innings in his 39-start MLB career over parts of three seasons.

Another step forward

• Right-hander Beau Brieske (right ulnar nerve entrapment) is scheduled to throw a live batting practice Wednesday in Lakeland, Florida, home of the Tigers’ spring training complex. If all goes well, he could join the Tigers at Comerica Park for the completion of his rehabilitation.

Proud parents

Manager A.J. Hinch will miss Friday’s game against the Chicago White Sox at Comerica Park. He is traveling to Houston for his daughter’s high school graduation.

Bench coach George Lombard will miss Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s games in Kansas City, the final two games in the series against the Royals, to attend his son’s high school graduation in Miami.

Lombard’s son, George Lombard Jr., is committed to Vanderbilt to play baseball.

Contact Evan Petzold at epetzold@freepress.com or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold.

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