Tigers’ Riley Greene has stress fracture in left fibula, placed on IL

Detroit News

Detroit — You wonder how much misfortune a baseball team can take in a 24-hour span. The Tigers are providing a case study.

Tuesday the club announced that their best starting pitcher, lefty Eduardo Rodriguez, was going to be lost for an extended period of time because of a rupture in the A4 pulley in his left index finger. Then, outfielder Matt Vierling was put on the injured list because of back soreness.

Wednesday morning brought another kick in the pants. Center fielder Riley Greene, who is a strong candidate to be the American League Player of the Month in May, was placed on the injured list because of a stress fracture in his left fibula.

Generally speaking, such injuries take a minimum of six weeks to heal.

“It sucks,” first baseman Spencer Torkelson said. “It totally sucks. We just have to find a way, at this point. We can either dwell on what we don’t have or focus on what we do have and try to win with who we’ve got. We’re taking the second option.”

Greene reported the pain in the first inning Tuesday night and was pulled after the third. Initial X-rays were negative, but the stress fracture was revealed in a subsequent MRI.

“We well get a second opinion in the coming days,” manager AJ Hinch said. “I really have no idea (about a timeline). We want to get a full diagnosis from multiple people and figure out what that means. For me to speculate on what that means is literally guessing.”

Greene, who was in a walking boot Wednesday morning, did not speak to the media. Hinch said he doesn’t think there was singular event that led to the injury. Greene started to feel his muscles tightening above the ankle in the last couple of days.

“These things happen,” shortstop Javier Baez said. “Him, Eduardo, Sherman (Vierling); we’re waiting for (Kerry) Carpenter, too. You just hope it’s not that bad and they can get back soon. We still have to grind, you know.”

The Tigers had acquired veteran outfielder Jake Marisnick from the White Sox in a minor-league deal Tuesday before Greene’s injury surfaced. His contract was purchased and he was starting in center field Wednesday.

“Ironically, the day before Riley got hurt, we wanted to fill in our depth and how we were going to take the playing time for Vierling,” said Hinch, who managed Marisnick in Houston. “We wanted another right-handed presence. He’s familiar help, but he was really performing in Triple-A. He’s a good center fielder, a good character makeup guy. He will run the bases aggressively and he’s got a ton of experience.

“It’s nice to reunite with him.”

Marisnick, 32, was hitting .260 with a .408 on-base percentage at Triple-A Charlotte. He’s always been a plus defender in the outfield throughout his 11-year big-league career.

“I’m ready to play,” he said. “It helps a lot (being back with Hinch). I know what AJ expects. Having played with some of these guys in here before, too, I’m looking forward to it.”

To clear a 40-man spot for Marisnick, the Tigers moved pitcher Trey Wingenter to the 60-day injured list.

“Now, we have to get to divvying up the playing time,” Hinch said. “We have the off-day Thursday to collect our thoughts on that. But, Jake has been on a lot of different teams and is revered for what he brings to a club.”

Greene has been the catalyst of the Tigers’ turnaround this month. He was slashing .365/.435/.573 with an OPS of 1.008, with nine doubles, a triple and three home runs. Hinch, who has had to mix-and-match in both corner outfield spots, will now do so for all three.

“I think we have to admit that it’s frustrating,” Hinch said. “It’s hard on a team. At the same time, we have to collect ourselves and figure out a different way. This is going to get better as guys get healthier … But the games are going to happen, regardless. We don’t like losing key people, but they’re not going to play for the foreseeable future either way.

“We have a choice to make and I know these guys will make the right choice.”

Hinch pointed out that starting pitchers Tarik Skubal and Matt Manning are on track to return by the end of June. Carpenter is on his rehab assignment and Vierling isn’t expected to be out much longer than the 10 days.

“But, we are going to have to find a different way to do it with different guys,” he said. “And quite honestly, we have to find some different guys to pick up the slack a little bit. We need to continue what we’ve started to build here.

“It’s hard to balance the emotions that come with this with the reality that we have a game in a couple of hours and our guys need to post. And we will. This is a good team. They will rally around itself.”

Around the horn

… Rodriguez will be with the club on the upcoming road trip. He is expected to see a finger specialist in Philadelphia.

… Right-hander Reese Olson was with the team Wednesday, though he won’t be officially called up until Friday. He is going to replace Rodriguez in the rotation and will make his big-league debut Friday in Chicago against the White Sox. In his last three starts for Toledo, Olson has allowed two runs in 14 innings, holding hitters to a .185 average with 22 strikeouts and six walks.

Twitter: @cmccosky

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