Houston – There will be no kid-gloves treatment for Alex Wilson.
“Just throw him into the fire,” manager Brad Ausmus said before Saturday night’s game against the Astros. “If we didn’t think he could pitch here, he wouldn’t be here.”
Wilson, who completed his injury rehab assignment in Toledo and was recalled to the Tigers Friday night, hasn’t faced a Major-League hitter since last season. But he’s hardly an unknown addition to the Tigers’ bullpen.
“I am anxious to get back in there but I have been in games,” said Wilson, who pitched 70 innings for the Tigers last season and posted a 3-3 record with a 2.19 ERA and 1.029 WHIP. “It’s not like I am coming right in off the street. Obviously it’s a different feel, a different atmosphere and different meaning to each one of these games. And I am looking forward to it.”
Wilson’s season ended a couple of weeks early last year because of shoulder fatigue, and he was shut down early in spring training with more shoulder problems. He had soreness in his right shoulder and lat, which ultimately was diagnosed as rotator cuff capsulitis.
He didn’t throw a single competitive pitch in spring training, but he’s thrown five innings since (at Class A Lakeland and Triple A Toledo), and has been cleared for full duty.
“Everything is a go,” he said. “I passed all the protocols, I guess you could say. I went back-to-back and had multiple two-inning stints. I am ready to go. It wasn’t a fun thing but I pitched through all the things I needed to pitch through.
“Now I am recovering faster (between outings). Everything looks good and feels good right now.”
There’s bound to be some rust, but Wilson is ready to pound it off.
“Pitching is pitching,” he said. “You have to make your pitches, that’s what it comes down to. I have faced most of these (hitters) before. If I make my pitches, I anticipate things will go well.”
It’s not likely he will have as heavy a workload as he did last season.
“As far as that goes, I am not too worried,” Wilson said. “We’ve got a lot of great arms in the bullpen this year. Last year when the phone rang it was usually for me or Blaine (Hardy) and later in the year Drew (VerHagen). We’ve got a lot of help down there this year, and we can help each other.”
Ausmus said he will use Wilson similarly to the way he’s used VerHagen this year.
“If we had to we could use him in the seventh,” Ausmus said. “If we had to go a couple innings with him, we could do that also.”
Wilson boarded a plane in Detroit at 8 a.m. Saturday morning, had a layover in Dallas and got to Houston around 11 a.m. His call-up this year was eight days sooner than his call-up last year (April 23).
“Mentally, I am great,” he said. “I got all the pictures, the MRIs, everything you can take of a shoulder, and it’s clean. Mentally that is a huge relief. Now I just have to go out and perform.”