‘Calm and cool’ Reese Olson impresses Tigers manager AJ Hinch

Detroit News

Detroit — If there’s one thing that stood out to Tigers manager AJ Hinch so far about Reese Olson, it’s not his swing-and-miss stuff.

Nope. While Hinch said he’s been encouraged by what Olson has provided in his five appearances this season, he’s been more impressed by the rookie pitcher’s demeanor.

“I’ve seen guys come up to the big leagues, haven’t done really well and get pretty wide-eyed,” Hinch said Sunday. “I’ve seen guys come up to the big leagues and having struggled in Triple A, be wide-eyed. He’s just pretty calm and cool, and he just does his thing.”

Olson picked up his first career MLB win on Saturday in what was his best performance yet. He struck out a career-high nine and allowed just one run on four hits — a solo home run by Carlos Correa — over 5⅓ innings.

His slider, in particular, was nearly unhittable. He got 11 swinging strikes and five of his punchouts came on the secondary pitch.

“He has a ton of confidence in his slider, which he should,” Hinch said. “I think he has enough confidence in his fastball. But there’s not a lot of panic when he gets into different counts. That, to me, is a pleasant surprise that he can come up here having struggled a little bit in Triple A and fit right in, feel confident and have nights like (Saturday).”

Hinch noted that pitching coach Chris Fetter does a good job of getting “guys’ minds calm” going into a game, whether it’s laying out a game plan for certain hitters or ways to get out of a bad count.

But the type of calmness and composure Olson has displayed on the mound isn’t something that can be taught.

“His overall reaction to falling behind 3-0 to Correa hitting the homer, and him having to settle back in a really tight game or some of the stuff he did in Philly in a tough environment, that I think is a little more innate,” Hinch said.

So far this season, Olson has racked up 28 strikeouts and given up 20 hits in 24⅔ innings. Given he’s coming off a couple “high-volume outings,” Hinch said it’s possible that Olson could get an extra day rest and be pushed back to the Colorado series with Matt Manning expected to return from the injured list either Tuesday or Thursday in Texas.

Regardless of when he makes his next start, Hinch said Olson needs to be cognizant that word is getting out about his filthy slider, and it’s imperative that he commands his fastball without throwing any “free” ones up in the zone.

“He’s going to have to execute at a high degree for that success to continue,” Hinch said. “(Saturday) was a good example. He got into the game with a boatload of fastballs and starts with the first pitch out, which helps. But that’s not as sustainable as it looks.”

Premature celebration

Before reliever Alex Lange slammed the door and preserved Saturday night’s 3-2 win over the Twins, the lights at Comerica Park went out a tad early before the win was secured.

On a 1-2 pitch against Edouard Julien, the Twins’ leadoff hitter fouled off the pitch. But the park operators, on the other hand, thought it was strike three and the final out was recorded.

“I believe in jinxes,” Hinch said. “I don’t know who breaks up our no-hitter every day, but somebody does. It was a bad omen. It with a pretty good hitter at the plate and the job not finished. I wish they would have been right because I was ready to celebrate, too.”

It ended up being no harm, no foul. Two pitches later, Lange got Julien to go down swinging on a breaking ball to earn his 12th save.

Around the horn

Matt Vierling has spent most of his time in the outfield in right field. After coming off the bench late and closing out Saturday’s game in left field, he started there for the second time this season on Sunday.

“It’s such a dilemma on these arrangements because (Zach) McKinstry is playing a very consistent right field. Vierling was playing close to the best right field in baseball when he was out there every day early,” Hinch said. “Jake (Marisnick) when he’s in the lineup he’s going to be in center, so we have that decision to make.

“But on the corners, those guys take a ton of reps at both. It’s very similar to what we have working in the infield between second base and third base. I have a ton of confidence in either arrangement.”

… Hinch said starting pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez, who is working his way back from a finger injury and threw a live BP session on Saturday, won’t be with the team during the Texas portion of their upcoming seven-game swing due to a “personal situation.”

“I think we’ll have a plan over the next 24 hours on what’s next for him,” Hinch said. “All signs are positive. I’m encouraged to get to the next step and get him hopefully in some action.”

On deck: Rangers

Series: Four games at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas

First pitch: Monday-Wednesday — 8:05 p.m.; Thursday — 2:05 p.m.

TV/radio: All four games on BSD/97.1 FM

Probables: Monday — LHP Matthew Boyd (5-5, 5.37) vs. LHP Andrew Heaney (5-4, 3.98); Tuesday — TBA vs. LHP Martin Perez (7-3, 4.38); Wednesday — LHP Joey Wentz (1-8, 6.72) vs. RHP Dane Dunning (6-1, 2.76); Thursday — TBA vs. TBA

Boyd: He’s notched wins in his past two starts, scattering seven hits with eight strikeouts over six innings against the Twins on June 15 and giving up six hits with seven strikeouts over six innings against the Royals on Wednesday. This will be his second time this season facing the Rangers, who nicked him for five earned runs on five hits in a 5-0 shutout loss in Detroit on May 29.

Heaney: He’s had a couple of short outings as of late and has pitched into the sixth inning just once in his past four starts this month. That happened his last time out against the Chicago White Sox last week, when he earned the win after striking out six and giving up five hits, including two solo home runs, over 5.2 innings.


Twitter: @jamesbhawkins

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