Tigers' Greene feels good, likely to make next start

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News

St. Louis — Shane Greene seems to have a dodged a bullet.

The inflammation that caused some pinching in the ulnar nerve in his pitching elbow went away and stayed away, even after his throwing session Sunday.

"Everything felt good," said Greene before the game Sunday. "My main concern today was to let loose and throw as game-like as possible to see how it felt. There was no tingling at all. I am pretty happy with today."

Greene felt a tingling in the pinky and ring fingers of his right hand during his start against the Cardinals on Friday. He was pulled after five innings and 74 pitches.

He had an MRI on the elbow Saturday, which came back clean. He had Tommy John surgery in 2008 and there was no structural damage in the area.

"Hopefully it was just a freak thing," Greene said. "The MRI said it all looked good. I guess some hitters get it when they swing. Hopefully that's what it's from."

Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said Friday night that he suspected the nerve was impacted by Greene's swings at the plate. He took some wild cuts in his two-strikeout at-bats.

"I am putting the bats away," Greene said. "Keep the DH."

Ausmus said he "would be shocked" if Greene didn't make his next start, which is Wednesday against the Brewers.

Hail Hardy

The last spot in the Tigers bullpen came down to a battle between left-handers Ian Krol and Blaine Hardy. Hard to believe these days that Hardy lost.

"When we were deciding which lefties to take, the toughest decision was whether to take Ian Krol or Hardy," Ausmus said. "At the end, there was a lot of discussion and there were people on both sides of the discussion."

Hardy wasn't down long, though. He was recalled on April 9 when Justin Verlander went on the DL and he's made it difficult for the Tigers to send him back.

"He's pitched well enough to stay here," Aumsus said. "But it's no surprise."

Hardy hasn't allowed an earned run since April 18, spanning 10 outings. In his last nine appearances, spanning 72/3 innings, he has allowed four hits with six strikeouts. Opposing hitters are batting .167 against him.

"The biggest thing is my curveball is getting back to where it was last year," said Hardy, who picked up the win Saturday pitching a scoreless ninth. "It's not there yet, but it's very close."

He struck out Peter Bourjos looking at a curve and Tony Cruz swinging at his 88 mph fastballs.

"That was down in the zone but down the middle of the plate," he said. "I was trying to put it on the corner and I missed. I think he was trying to sit on something off-speed and I caught him off guard.

"That's why pitching is such a funny thing. You can throw the perfect pitch and they hit it. And you can make a mistake and they are looking for something else and can't catch up to it."

Getting close

Monday is a big day for reliever Bruce Rondon and starter Justin Verlander.

Rondon is scheduled to throw a 25-pitch live bullpen session (against hitters) before the game. Verlander is scheduled to throw another full bullpen, though with no hitters.

Ausmus said he wasn't sure what the next step would be for Rondon, if things went well. No rehab assignment has been planned.

As for Verlander?

"If he comes out of the bullpen session all right, the next step could possibly be a simulated game," Ausmus said.

Ausmus has said Verlander may need to throw a couple of simulated games before he makes a rehab start.

No mistake

It seemed at the time like Ausmus may have been slow to get left-hander Hardy ready in the bullpen. In the eighth inning Saturday, with the game tied, Joba Chamberlain, who was struggling with his control, gave up a two-out single to Yadier Molina.

That brought up left-handed hitting Kolten Wong. Hardy was not ready, but it turns out, Ausmus wanted Chamberlain to pitch to Wong all along.

"Joba has decent numbers against left-handed hitters," Ausmus said. "I wasn't going to take him out there. We were getting Hardy ready for (left-handed hitting) Matt Adams, in case he hit for Borjous or the pitcher's spot."

Chamberlain got Wong to ground out.

Around the horn

The pitcher's spot was due up with a runner on third and two outs in the seventh Sunday night. Clearly, with the Tigers down 2-1, Alfredo Simon wasn't going to bat.

Initially, Rajai Davis was in the on-deck circle, but he was never going to bat either. Turns out, he was only holding the spot until Victor Martinez finished taking warm-up swings in the cage.

"I told Raj to go on deck, but you are not hitting," Ausmus said.

Martinez would up fouling out to third.



Brewers at Tigers

Series: Three games at Comerica Park, Detroit

First pitch: 7:08 p.m. Monday-Wednesday

TV/radio: Monday-Wednesday – FSD, 1270, 97.1

Probables: Monday – RHP Mike Fiers (1-4, 5.00) vs. LHP Kyle Lobstein (3-3, 4.33); Tuesday – RHP Jimmy Nelson (1-4, 4.22) vs. RHP Anibal Sanchez (3-4, 4.76); Wednesday – RHP Kyle Lohse (3-4, 5.85) vs. RHP Shane Greene (4-2, 4.21).

Scouting report

Fiers, Brewers: He has scuffled, though he did have a 12-strikeout game against the Cubs on May 2. Still, he is the type of right-handed pitcher that has given the Tigers fits this season. He will keep his four-seamer up in the zone at 90-91 mph to set up a 12-to-6 slow curve and his cutter. He's tough when he's got command of that curveball.

Lobstein, Tigers: After four consecutive quality starts, Lobstein couldn't get out of the third inning against the Twins in his last start (six runs, seven hits). His splits are still lopsided with right-handers clubbing him (.325 average, .836 OPS) and lefties not so much (.220, .558). The Brewers feature some strong right-handed bats — Ryan Bruan, Aramis Ramirez, Carlos Gomez, Khris Davis.