Rookies McCann, Wilson silver lining to Tigers season
Exceptions exist. The matter of surprises — happy surprises — was advanced Friday in manager Brad Ausmus’ office as the Tigers dressed for a weekend series against the Royals at Comerica Park.
Ausmus agreed with a thought that rookie catcher James McCann probably ranked first in progress that would have seemed overly hopeful in spring camp.
“And I’d put Alex Wilson in that category, also,” Ausmus said, speaking of a right-handed reliever who was little-known when he came to the Tigers in last winter’s trade involving Rick Porcello and Yoenis Cespedes.
Wilson’s status hardly changed during spring training when he had undistinguished numbers and began the season at Triple A Toledo.
But after a delivery issue got ironed out, Wilson has been the team’s best reliever, while McCann has become Ausmus’ regular catcher.
Were it not for an exceptional year for American League rookies — Carlos Correa, Francisco Lindor, Roberto Osuna, Miguel Sano, Lance McCullers, etc. — McCann, who on Friday was batting .272 while playing one of baseball’s most complex positions, might in many other years be a top-three finalist for Rookie of the Year.
But it won’t happen. Not this year. Not that it diminishes his work, or Wilson’s, during a season that, for Ausmus and for Tigers followers, has produced more than its share of downers.
Injuries continue to be a topic du jour in the Tigers clubhouse.
Ausmus had these updates Friday:
Nick Castellanos, sore groin: He was expected to be available for pinch-hitting tasks, if needed, but, as Ausmus said: “We’re just being careful with it. A groin is a dangerous area.”
Jose Iglesias, fractured finger: The Tigers shortstop was scheduled for another MRI as he continues to recover, somewhat slowly. He could return before the team’s final game, Oct. 4.
Anibal Sanchez, ailing shoulder: He likely will not pitch again this season. Ausmus said it was up to Sanchez if he wished to accompany the team on its final road trip.
Buck Farmer, forearm strain: “Progressing well,” Ausmus said, saying Farmer might soon work in the bullpen, or even as a starter, depending upon his gains.
The Elias Sports Bureau dug into its archives and learned that reliever Ian Krol became a minor Tigers historical figure when he got the victory Wednesday in a 12-inning game against the Twins.
Elias, which allows few if any statistical findings to escape its computer printouts, discovered that Krol’s three hitless innings made him the first Tigers reliever to pitch three or more hitless innings and record a victory since Dan Miceli did it in a 12-inning game at Milwaukee on Aug. 21, 1997.
Elias has also revealed that McCann and his errorless string of 107 games makes him a modern-day luminary.
No big-league catcher since 1900 has had a no-error run to match McCann’s. He has bested the previous record-holder, Frankie Pytlak, who had a 93-game streak with the Indians from 1932-34.
Royals at Tigers
First pitch: 7:08 tonight, Comerica Park, Detroit
TV/radio: FS1/1270, 97.1
RHP Edinson Volquez, Royals (13-8, 3.59): Hasn’t been as sharp in recent starts, but Volquez has been fairly steady for Kansas City in 2015. Not a big strikeout guy, and will give up an occasional walk. But at 32, a good pitcher.
LHP Matt Boyd, Tigers (1-5, 8.02): Has been rushed a bit since he was acquired in July. Has the arm, and enough pitches, but could benefit from a smooth outing, with no big innings, as a young pitcher with upside prepares for important work in 2016.