Detroit — Sawyer Gipson-Long won’t have to wait much longer to throw his first Major League pitch.
The Triple-A Toledo right-handed pitcher will officially make his MLB debut at Comerica Park during Sunday’s series finale between the Tigers and White Sox, manager A.J. Hinch announced Friday night.
“I’m really excited to see him pitch,” Hinch said. “This is a great organizational win for a guy who came into the organization. We think he had some untapped potential. We make him better. He buys in. He’s changed a little bit of everything from his attack plan to some of his pitch shapes.
“To see him go out and really earn his way here, it’s exactly the story we love to share and he’s earned the opportunity to come up here and go out and pitch.”
Drafted with the 179th overall pick in the 2019 MLB Draft by the Twins, Gipson-Long was acquired by Detroit last year in a trade that sent reliever Michael Fulmer to Minnesota. He owns a record of 8-8 this season with 99.2 innings pitched with 126 strikeouts and a 4.33 ERA.
Gipson-Long will be in Detroit on Saturday for an acclimation day ahead of the team’s 1:10 p.m. game against the White Sox, according to Hinch. He won’t be on the bench, but he’ll be able to move into his locker and meet his new teammates.
Hinch hinted on Thursday that the Tigers’ open rotation spot — due to Matt Manning’s season-ending foot injury — could be filled by someone on the roster or somebody who is currently pitching at Triple-A Toledo. That officially came to fruition on Friday.
The third-year coach agreed that he finds joy in bringing newly-called up players into his office to celebrate the realization of their dreams, but he’d rather celebrate Gipson-Long’s first career victory.
“It’s better to celebrate his first win or first success, but (I like) the joy of seeing that smile on his face,” Hinch said. “That’s fun to see his reaction and trust me — like my two girls in college — they get acclimated pretty quickly and they take care of themselves and go on to play in the normal league.
“The first day is always cool. Celebrating the first accomplishment is right up there, too. It’ll be fun seeing him. I got to meet him in the spring. I don’t know him all that well, but our coaches in the minors, they’ve all done a great job of getting him ready for this opportunity.”
Outfielder Matt Vierling is available for Friday’s series opener against the White Sox, Hinch confirmed. Vierling left Friday’s win over the Yankees in the eighth inning after a a ball hit his right elbow. Hinch initially said he was scheduled to be off on Friday regardless, but Vierling insisted that he’d like to play.
“He’s fine. He’s got a sore elbow,” Hinch said. “I think he’s already played catch and hit. He’s made it perfectly clear that he’d like to be available. We’d like him to be available. He’s good to go.”
As far as outfielder Riley Greene, who was placed on the injured list due to right elbow inflammation, an update should be available early next week.
“I think early next week will be the next scan for him, which should give us a clearer picture of what’s next for him,” Hinch said. “Hopefully, we’ll have more information by next Tuesday when the next medical update comes and while we’re home. That’ll be nice.”
White Sox at Tigers
First pitch: 6:10 p.m., Saturday, Comerica Park
Probables: Tarik Skubal (4-3, 3.77 ERA) vs. TBD