Detroit Tigers bring back infielder Nick Maton after 11 games in Triple-A Toledo

Detroit Free Press

SEATTLE — Nick Maton needed 11 games in Triple-A Toledo.

The Detroit Tigers recalled Maton, a left-handed hitting infielder, from the Mud Hens coming out of the All-Star break. In Maton, the Tigers have filled the opening on their 26-man roster ahead of Friday’s game against the Seattle Mariners at T-Mobile Park to start a three-game series.

“I feel like I’m in a good spot to help this team win some games,” Maton said.

Back on June 26, the Tigers optioned Maton to Triple-A Toledo because of his poor performance on offense and defense. He was acquired from the Philadelphia Phillies in an offseason trade.

“Maton went down and did what we asked him to do,” Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said. “I think the mental reset was good for him. We wanted to honor our word that once we felt like he did that, we were going to bring him back into the fold.”

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The 72 games with the Tigers were a disaster.

“I put a lot of pressure on myself to be someone on this team who can really contribute, help this team and be a main part of it,” Maton said. “I wasn’t doing well, and I was pressing to do even better to get back on track. Sometimes, that’s hard on yourself. I feel like going down there was a good thing for me to find who I am again.”

Maton, in his third MLB season, hit .163 with six home runs, 33 walks and 61 strikeouts before his demotion. Entering Friday, his 67 wRC+ ranks 204th among 212 position players with at least 230 plate appearances, but that’s still better than shortstop Javier Báez (62 wRC+) and catcher Eric Haase (49 wRC+).

In his first stint, Maton was worth minus-7 defensive runs saved at third base and minus-2 defensive runs saved at second base.

Maton took the roster spot of center fielder Jake Marisnick, who was designated for assignment after Sunday’s 4-3 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays. The 32-year-old, known for elite defense in the outfield, cleared waivers and signed a major-league contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

“We see the outfield as being more and more crowded,” Hinch said, referencing the returns of Riley Greene and Akil Baddoo. “It’s pushing (Zach) McKinstry back to the infield quite a bit. … With us, we really like the guys that can move around the field and not just play primarily center field.”

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A costly throwing error from Maton at third base blew the Tigers’ lead with two outs in the eighth inning June 25 against the Minnesota Twins. The mistake led to his June 26 demotion. Maton started at second base Friday and is expected to start at third base before the end of the series in Seattle.

In Triple-A Toledo, Maton hit .290 with two home runs, seven walks and 10 strikeouts across 11 games. He played four positions with the Mud Hens: shortstop (35⅔ innings), third base (27⅔ innings), second base (18 innings) and left field (five innings).

Maton posted a .943 on-base-plus-slugging percentage.

He also got a taste of the automated strike zone and challenge system in the minor leagues.

“Dude, I love it,” Maton said. “I think it holds everybody accountable. … I think it’s a great thing. I think it’s something that should be implemented up here. … If it clips it, it’s a strike. It is what it is. That’s fire, I think, and it should be like that.”

Next step for Spencer Turnbull

Right-hander Spencer Turnbull (neck discomfort) is scheduled to throw a live batting practice session Saturday in Lakeland, Florida. The 30-year-old will need at least two live BPs before starting a rehab assignment.

Turnbull hasn’t pitched in a game since May 6.

Three rehabbing pitchers — Turnbull, right-hander Casey Mize and right-handed reliever Will Vest — will be stationed in Lakeland, home of the organization’s spring training facility, until the Tigers return to Comerica Park on July 21.

Mize (right elbow sprain, lumbar strain) completed a “scheduled period of rest” and resumed throwing as part of his program. The former No. 1 overall pick is expected to throw a touch-and-feel bullpen next week.

Vest (right lower leg strain) is playing catch and advancing in his running progression.

Matt Manning’s health

Right-hander Matt Manning felt discomfort in his side and suffered back stiffness during his portion — 6⅔ innings — of the combined no-hitter from three pitches July 8 against the Blue Jays.

Manning passed all the medical tests.

“He came back OK,” Hinch said. “We’re going to monitor his workload a little bit. But he came out here (on the field Friday). We did some (pitcher fielding practice) stuff. He did everything.”

The 25-year-old, who has a 3.72 ERA in five starts, is expected to make his next start Monday against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium. (Left-hander Tarik Skubal is lined up to start Tuesday.)

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

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