Why Detroit Tigers’ Casey Mize ended second live batting practice earlier than expected

Detroit Free Press

Akil Baddoo was ready for the next pitch.

Detroit Tigers right-hander Casey Mize, though, walked from the mound to home plate. His second live batting practice session ended after 17 pitches, right in the middle of Baddoo’s third plate appearance.

After his first live batting practice, in which he threw 20 pitches, Mize said the next step in his rehab program was to “increase volume” in his second live batting practice session. But that didn’t happen for the 26-year-old in Wednesday’s session at Comerica Park.

“We were going to have him go one inning and see how it took him, and then obviously try to build off that,” Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said Wednesday. “He was done, I think, at 18 pitches, up to 96 (mph). … I think he’s fatiguing. I think he’s tired. I don’t think he felt particularly great, which is expected, but that didn’t alter his plan.”

FIRST LIVE BP: Former No. 1 overall pick Casey Mize shows clean delivery, four-pitch mix to hitters for first time since surgeries

Hinch was asked about the specifics of Mize’s fatigue.

Mize, the 2018 No. 1 overall pick, underwent elbow surgery and back surgery during the 2022 season. The 26-year-old underwent Tommy John surgery on June 15, 2022, then back surgery shortly after that.

“His whole body,” Hinch said. “His arm. He’s sore. He’s throwing. I mean, we’ll see where it takes him. I don’t think it’s anything that is that concerning or even to comment on it. I think it’s a guy rehabbing who’s doing a lot, so whether he threw 17 pitches or 18 pitches or 20 pitches, or whatever would satisfy the masses, he did exactly what we wanted him to do.”

After Wednesday’s live batting practice, Mize gathered near home with Hinch, pitching coach Chris Fetter, assistant pitching coach Robin Lund, video coordinator Austin Tripp and head athletic trainer Ryne Eubanks.

Mize faced Baddoo and Zack Short in a total of five plate appearances.

He threw one pitch to Baddoo (resulting in a single to right field), five pitches to Short (a groundout to shortstop), four pitches to Baddoo again (a grounder down the first-base line), four pitches to Short (a strikeout) and finished with three pitches to Baddoo.

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Mize didn’t appear in the Tigers’ clubhouse immediately after his work.

Seven days ago, Hinch appeared on MLB Network to discuss the Tigers’ success in August. During the interview, Hinch said Mize “is about to go out on a rehab assignment here in the not-too-distant future.”

The regular season schedule for Low-A Lakeland and High-A West Michigan concludes Sept. 10, followed by Double-A Erie on Sept. 22 and Triple-A Toledo on Sept. 24. It’s unclear if Mize will take the mound for a third live batting practice session, or if he will begin a rehab assignment.

Roster move

The Tigers optioned right-handed reliever Garrett Hill to Triple-A Toledo to create space on the 26-man roster for left-hander Joey Wentz.

Wentz is scheduled to pitch Wednesday against the New York Yankees, though not as the starting pitchers. Right-handed reliever Brendan White will serve as the opener for the Tigers.

The Tigers recalled Hill before Tuesday’s game and used him to eat innings in the 4-2 loss. The 27-year-old allowed one run on two hits and one walk — without a strikeout — in two innings, throwing 29 pitches.

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

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