Tigers’ Casey Mize issues warning to those closely watching rehab: ‘This is not linear’

Detroit News

Detroit — Former No. 1 pick Casey Mize issued a warning Thursday to those keeping a close eye on his rehab.

“This is not linear at all,” Mize told reporters, in response to questions about cutting his live batting practice session short the day prior. He was supposed to throw “20 to 25, ended up at 16 or 18, or something like that.”

But the 26-year-old right-hander contended it’s not an issue with his rehab, as much as it is with how closely people are paying attention to it. Mize has been performing parts of his rehab lately at Comerica Park in Detroit, rather than in the privacy of Lakeland, Fla. — hence the scrutiny surrounding what’s already an imperfect science.

“No concerns. Guys, this is — I love being up here throughout this process — but this is stuff that you are all seeing for the first time,” Mize said.

“… In Lakeland, guys miss months with setbacks during this and nobody cares about it because they’re away. So, there’s just fatigue and feelings that come along with this of hitting a new step or doing something new that I’m gonna have to work through, and I’ve been doing that this entire process, and I’m going to do it now.

“This is nothing new and nothing concerning from our end. From what this process looks like, it’s just a hurdle to get through. That’s pretty much it.”

Last week, Mize, the top pick in the 2018 MLB Draft, threw his first live batting practice session since undergoing Tommy John and back surgery in June 2022. Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said he’s been “stubborn with laying out his plan” because of the processes’ volatile nature.

“He’s dealing with a lot. There’s good days, there’s medium days, there’s been very few bad days. And I wouldn’t even characterize yesterday as a bad day,” Hinch said. “You want him to go one inning and get his pitches in. He only fell a few pitches short of the ideal number and came out of it and immediately started studying his pitches and talking to hitters.

“Had we not done it at 2 o’clock, it would’ve been sort of a non-event. We’re just going day-by-day so that he’ll be honest with us when he doesn’t feel great, and then all of a sudden, we can alter or lengthen his rest or do whatever we need to do.”

Mize said he feels “really good about the direction I’m heading” and that he got good feedback from the hitters he faced on Wednesday.

“Akil (Baddoo) said he really liked my splitter. He just said (there was) good action on it and came outta my hand really well,” Mize said. “(Zach Short) said he liked the fastball. They said the stuff looks pretty similar out of the hand. … It’s a unique opportunity to get real feedback and honest feedback from your teammates that you don’t really get outside of probably a spring-training setting.”

Mize, a former consensus All-America out of Auburn, has not pitched in a game for the Tigers since April 14, 2022.

Baez day-to-day

Tigers shortstop Javier Báez wasn’t in the Tigers’ starting lineup Thursday, for the second day in a row. Without getting into specifics, Hinch said Báez was dealing with a couple of different things that could extend his absence briefly, while also mentioning he’s unsure if Báez is completely unavailable for Thursday’s series finale against the New York Yankees.

“He’s beat up a little bit and not feeling 100 percent, and I’m not gonna play him when he’s not,” Hinch said. “He’s day-to-day, we talked about it last night after the game yesterday. It was just a simple day off, it turned into multiple days off. We’ll see if he’s available today. Should be, but it’s a combination of things.”

Over the last month, Báez has continued to hit new lows at the plate in what’d arguably been his worst season as a professional. Báez is hitting .175/.242/.246 with an OPS of .488 in 57 at-bats since August 1.

Short will take Báez’s spot at shortstop on Thursday after Zach McKinstry, who moves over to third for the finale, covered for Báez in Wednesday night’s 6-2 loss.

Faedo to the pen

Hinch confirmed the Tigers wouldn’t be using a six-man pitching rotation but would instead be sending right-handed pitcher Alex Faedo, who’s made 11 starts for the Tigers this year, to the bullpen. While Hinch said the team wouldn’t “turn our back on him” as a starter, Hinch believes he can carve out a more effective role as a reliever.

“He’s gonna be in the pen. He was in there last night; he’ll be in the pen starting today. In a perfect world, we don’t use him until (Friday), which would be his normal rest as a starter,” Hinch said. “But, we’re gonna transition him to a little bit more of the bulk reliever — may have some multiple innings (appearances), I won’t go back-to-back; I’m not gonna ambush him.

“We’ll have — I won’t say ‘scheduled’ outings — but a pretty good idea of when we’re gonna use him and give him plenty of time to get ready. Then, one time through the order, 45-50 pitches, and be available a couple days later.”

Lefty Joey Wentz will not be going to the bullpen this weekend, but it does sound as though it’s a possibility for him next week and beyond.

“We’ll talk about how we’re gonna attack New York next week, whether it’s a bullpen game or we open for him again,” Hinch said. “And I could even see an idea where Faedo and him both pitch in the same game, but we’ve got some games before that to deal with before we worry about it.”

On deck: Tigers at White Sox

▶ Series: Three games, Guaranteed Rate Field, Chicago

▶ First pitch: Friday — 8:10 p.m.; Saturday — 7:10 p.m.; Sunday — 2:10 p.m.

▶ TV/Radio: Friday-Sunday — Bally Sports Detroit/97.1

▶ Probables: Friday — RHP Touki Toussaint (2-6, 4.85 ERA) vs. LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (9-7, 3.21 ERA); Saturday — RHP Mike Clevinger (6-6, 3.32 ERA) vs. TBD; Sunday — RHP Michael Kopech vs. TBD

Scouting report

 Rodriguez, Tigers: Rodriguez is looking to bounce back after tying his shortest start of the season in Saturday’s loss to the Astros. It was two starts after Rodriguez set a season-high six earned runs against his former team, the Red Sox. Outside of two tough performances against contenders, Rodriguez has been the Tigers’ most consistent starter, boasting. a staff-best 3.21 ERA.

▶ Toussaint, White Sox: One week ago, the Athletics probably thought they were catching Toussaint at the right time. He’d struggled mightily in August, boasting an 8.84 ERA through his first four starts. Turns out that Toussaint just needed a date with the A’s to get back on track: He threw five scoreless innings, while giving up just two hits and looking a lot more like the pitcher who carried a 3.46 ERA over six appearances in July.

nbianchi@detroitnews.com

Twitter/X: @nolanbianchi

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