Chicago — Yes, he acknowledged Friday, it has been a season of strife. Whether it was an issue with his pitching, or the reality that he was facing potentially serious legal problems, Evan Reed will remember 2014 for reasons that are uniquely personal, and professional.
“It’s been a very tough year,” Reed said Friday in the Tigers clubhouse as they got ready for a four-game series with the White Sox at U.S. Cellular field. “You take each day like a deep breath. I’m just trying to help the Tigers.”
Reed, a 28-year-old right-handed reliever, returned Friday to a big league team he had made at the 11th hour of spring camp in March. That promotion, as it turned out, also brought him to Detroit on the night of March 29 and ultimately to accusations of sexual assault.
The charge was dropped earlier this month at the order of a Wayne County District Court judge.
“You just have to trust that everything will work itself out,” said Reed, who had waited on a police investigation, which culminated in charges from the Wayne County prosecutor that were eventually dropped. “I had great support from the Tigers, from my family, from everyone who was important.
“It was a slippery slope. I just wanted to stay positive and take it one pitch at a time and have faith.”
Reed was attempting foremost to keep his mind on his occupation: throwing a baseball and returning to Detroit after earlier ineffectiveness demoted him to Triple A Toledo. There he got a handle on his mid-90s fastball and on a slider that had not been putting away hitters as it did in early spring.
In his last 10 games for the Mud Hens, Reed had a 1.93 ERA, with 16 strikeouts and a lone walk in 14 innings.
“I threw a lot more breaking balls,” said Reed, who said getting “on top” of his slider and attacking hitters with early-count strikes was his triumph at Toledo.
He also pitched multiple innings, several times, which the Tigers would happily accept as they try to keep a congested schedule and a tired bullpen from exploding.
The Tigers today made room for Reed’s addition to the active roster by dropping another right-handed reliever, Jose Ortega, who was designated for assignment.
The Tigers likely will outright Ortega to their minor league system should he clear waivers. They also could trade him within a 10-day period. Ortega, 25, has had stints with the Tigers during the past three seasons, spanning 14 games.
He had been pitching at Triple A Toledo, where he was 2-2, with a 3.70 ERA in 45 games. He had 45 strikeouts in 56 innings, but he also had walked 36 batters, accounting for a dark 1.52 WHIP (walks plus hits per inning).
The Tigers were preparing Friday for a night game against the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field. They are scheduled to play a day-night doubleheader Saturday, when another Toledo pitcher, left-handed starter Kyle Ryan, is scheduled to join the team. The Tigers will make a 40-man roster announcement ahead of Saturday’s first game as they clear space for Ryan.
Showers and thunderstorms were forecast for late Friday afternoon in Chicago, extending into early evening on Saturday.
Joakim Soria threw a baseball Friday — not hard, and not for any great duration. But the Tigers and Soria at least believe a right-handed reliever who has been on the shelf for the past two weeks with a strained oblique is getting within range of returning to Detroit’s bullpen.
“Day by day,” Soria said. “It feels better.”
There is still no timetable for Soria to begin bullpen sessions or to head to the minor leagues for a rehabilitation stint. Soria, though, was adamant Friday that he will pitch for the Tigers before the regular season ceases Sept. 28.
Anibal Sanchez, likewise, is no closer to returning to the Tigers rotation. Ausmus said Sanchez had reported “feeling better.” But there is no sign of any imminent return as Sanchez deals with a pectoralis strain in his right side.
There is heavy rain forecast for Chicago throughout the day and into Saturday night, which put in peril a scheduled day-night doubleheader at U.S. Celluar Field, necessitated by earlier wet weather.
That has been 2014 for the Tigers and for so many big league teams. Rain, cancellations, and cancellations of rain dates, which the Tigers and White Sox could be facing today.
“Right now, it doesn’t look as if the forecast is going to be very accommodating,” said Tigers manager Brad Ausmus, who understood that a washout today could necessitate another doubleheader Sunday.
“We’ll be here all day, either way,” he said of Saturday’s itinerary.
Tigers at White Sox
First pitch: 1:10 p.m. and 7:10 p.m., U.S. Cellular Field, Chicago
TV/radio: First game on FSD/97.1, second game on FSD, WGN/97.1
RHP Max Scherzer (15-4, 3.13), Tigers: Throwing well enough, with supporting numbers, to factor into another Cy Young Award race in 2014.
LHP Chris Sale (10-3, 2.03), White Sox: As tough as any left-hander in baseball, with the possible exception of Clayton Kershaw. A marvelous matchup for Scherzer.
LHP Kyle Ryan (0-0, 0.00), Tigers: About to get baptized as a big leaguer, Ryan does not overpower. He likes to bury his sinker and cutter and let his defense go to work.
RHP Chris Bassitt (0-0, 0.00), White Sox: Another first-timer, Bassitt will arrive from Double A, where he had a 1.56 ERA in six starts. He is 6-foot-5, 210, and had 36 strikeouts in 34 innings.