Saga continues: Tigers activate and then option Spencer Turnbull to Toledo

Detroit News

Detroit — Tigers manager AJ Hinch expects that right-hander Spencer Turnbull will work his way back to being a major league pitcher, but it’s not going to be any time soon.

The Tigers on Wednesday activated Turnbull off the injured list and optioned him to Triple-A Toledo. There is no corresponding move because his activation fills the final spot on the 40-man roster.

Turnbull, in his first season back after recovering from Tommy John surgery, had been out with a neck injury since May 7. He made his fourth and final rehab start with the Mud Hens Tuesday night in Louisville and it didn’t go well. He gave up three runs, six hits and two walks in 3⅔ innings.

The average exit velocity on balls put in play against him was 91 mph.

In four starts at Toledo, he’s posted an ERA of 7.71. His four-seam and two-seam fastballs were sitting at 93 mph, but he’s had difficult regaining the feel on his secondary pitches.

With Eduardo Rodriguez, Tarik Skubal, Matt Manning, Reese Olson and Alex Faedo healthy and pitching well in the rotation, the Tigers made the choice to let Turnbull continue working himself back to form in Triple-A.

It brings Turnbull’s saga full circle. The Tigers initially optioned him on May 6 after he posted a 7.26 ERA in seven starts. Turnbull, who had tried to pitch through the severe pain in his neck, notified the club of the injury.

He subsequently changed agents, hiring Scott Boras. Tests were done on the neck and an injury was detected. On May 12, on the basis of those tests, the Tigers rescinded the option and placed Turnbull on the 15-day injured list.

But the rehab process has been a struggle, performance-wise. In four rehab starts, Triple-A hitters had a slash line against him of .338/.416/.574 with a .990 OPS.

It’s possible that Turnbull will request additional medical tests. Reports from the game in Louisville indicated that he pulled himself out of the game in the fourth inning.

But he still threw 82 pitches.

Either way, for Turnbull, who will turn 31 on Sept. 18, it has to feel a long way from his no-hitter performance in Seattle in 2021.

Flu bug

Shortstop Javier Báez was out of the lineup for a second straight game Wednesday, felled by a flu bug that’s gone through the Tigers’ clubhouse.

“This sickness has gone through the coaches and the players and through the whole clubhouse,” Hinch said. “Javy is the next one. We’re hoping it helps getting him these 48 hours (Tuesday and Wednesday) and then with the off day tomorrow he should be good to go Friday against the Astros.”

Miguel Cabrera, who was not in the lineup Wednesday, has also been battling the bug.

Hinch said both would be available off the bench, but he’d prefer not to have to use them.

Around the horn

Right-hander Mason Englert (hip) made a rehab outing for Toledo Tuesday, too. He was tagged for five runs and five hits in 2⅓ innings.

… Lefty Tyler Holton, after getting four straight outs Tuesday, leads American League relievers (40-inning minimum) with a 0.82 WHIP. His 1.62 ERA is sixth and .165 opponent batting average fifth. In nine outings this month, he’s pitched 12⅓ scoreless innings allowing just one hit with 13 strikeouts.

Twitter: @cmccosky

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