Detroit — Tigers pitching coach Chris Bosio isn’t going to talk about whatever medical issues he dealt with in Cleveland last week that kept him away from the team for a week.
That’s his right and he’s not budging.
But he’s more than happy to talk about his pitching staff.
“The guys have been doing good,” he said. “It’s been a really tough season thus far, just trying to get the starters on a five-day plan and getting in work for all the relievers. But every team has had to deal with it.”
The temperature climbed over 50 degrees Thursday, but for the most part, the Tigers and other teams in the northern and eastern parts of the country have played in sub-40-degree chill.
“Unless you are out there doing it, you can’t say, ‘I know what it feels like,’” Bosio said. “I know what it felt like at County Stadium (in Milwaukee) with the wind coming off the lake. But I don’t know what it’s like on back-to-back-to-back 33-degree days with snow and sleet falling.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever seen that.”
The Tigers rank seventh in the American League in ERA (3.90) and fifth in WHIP (1.24) which is a marked improvement over last season, when they ranked at the bottom in nearly all pitching categories.
“I’ve been encouraged by their involvement in what we’re trying to do,” Bosio said. “It’s a change for them, more tedious on a lot of things. But they’ve been great. But we need to play some days in a row to really see it all unfold.”
Bosio was asked about left-hander Daniel Norris, whether, in a perfect world, he would be best suited to be a starter or reliever.
“I can’t make that determination because of where we’re at, with the weather and what our needs are,” Bosio said. “I don’t know if there is a perfect world or that you would ever be able to follow that script. … We decided as a group to put him in there.”
Norris, who has pitched twice in long relief, will make a spot start on Friday in the second game of a doubleheader against the Royals. Manager Ron Gardenhire said Wednesday the club was still debating whether to send him back to Toledo and let him start every five days.
“I don’t know if Daniel Norris is a going to be a starter or reliever,” Bosio said. “Daniel Norris will tell us based on his performance. These guys make our decisions for us based on how they play.
“It’s not like we sit around and go, ‘This, this and this.’ Ultimately, they force our hand based on how they perform. It’s always been that way.”
Two of the early success stories this season have been reliever Joe Jimenez and starter Matthew Boyd. Bosio said the Tigers’ beefed up analytics have benefited both.
“There are analytics things they’ve never seen or applied before,” Bosio said. “So you are seeing some results from guys who have a little bit more information. And we’re seeing what guys can handle the information.
“Boyd and Jimenez, they have more information and information is a very powerful thing. When applied properly, you get results.”
Boyd has allowed one run or none in each of his first three starts. That despite a noted decrease in his fastball velocity — from 93 mph to 90-91.
“It’s been 33 degrees,” Bosio said. “Don’t be quick to judge velocity when they are pitching in a snowstorm.”
Jimenez has yet to allow a run this season and is locking down the eighth-inning set-up role.
“It’s his second time through the league,” Bosio said. “He doesn’t have a lot of sample size against anybody, nor them against him. It’s a two-way battle.
“He’s matured a little bit as a pitcher and he’s going to mature a lot more. He’s been all in on the information and has applied it well. I look for more improvement out of him.”
Getting over it
Tigers starter Jordan Zimmermann admitted it was on his mind at first. How could it not have been?
He made his first start Thursday since taking a line drive off his face in Cleveland on April 11. The first batter he faced, Trey Mancini, hit a ground ball up the middle.
“I thought about it on a few balls out there that the guys hit hard,” he said. “Like, if that had come back at me, what could’ve happened. But as I got going, I felt more and more comfortable and didn’t really think about it.”
It was an uneven start for Zimmermann. He gave up four runs (three home runs) in 5 1/3 innings. But he did strike out seven and had a stretch of eight straight outs from the end of the third to the top of the sixth.
“I feel like I pitched all right,” he said. “I felt like two pitches (the home run balls to Chris Davis and Manny Machado, who hit two off him) made it look a lot worse than it was.”
Left-hander Chad Bell, who gave up two runs in 1 2/3 innings, was sent back to Triple-A Toledo. The Tigers will recall two players Friday — one to replace Bell and a 26th player for the second game of the doubleheader against the Royals.
… Over his last seven starts dating to last season, Matthew Boyd has posted a 2.00 ERA and limited opponents to a .169 batting average.
… The Tigers are 6-for-6 on video challenges this season.