Detroit — It looks like the Tigers will be without the services of center fielder JaCoby Jones for a while.
Jones was pulled in the fourth inning with right hamstring tightness.
“He’s getting an MRI as we speak,” manager Ron Gardenhire said after the Tigers' 4-2 win against the Twins Sunday. “We’re trying to make a decision right now. We might have to make a roster move.”
Jones took a hard tumble after laying out for a ball smashed to deep center by Mitch Garver, which ended up being a lead-off triple in the second inning. Then, after legging out an infield single in the bottom of the second, his leg clipped first baseman Tyler Austin.
He stayed in the game after that, but it was clear he was in discomfort in the third inning when he came up gingerly after making a long running catch in right-center.
No roster move was announced immediately after the game, but outfielder Mikie Mahtook would be a candidate. He is the only other outfielder on the 40-man roster not presently up with the Tigers.
The Tigers started the game without right fielder Nick Castellanos, whose right foot was bruised and swollen after fouling a ball off it Saturday night. He will be evaluated day to day, though he told Gardenhire that he could’ve DH’d on Sunday.
“The trainer (Doug Teter) said that wasn’t a good idea,” Gardenhire said.
About the balk
It looked bad. It looked, in fact, like Tigers starter Matthew Boyd may have hurt himself on the play.
In the sixth inning, with Logan Forsythe on second base and two outs, Boyd went through his delivery on a 1-0 pitch to Miguel Sano. Except he never released the ball. He came through with his arm and tucked the ball into his glove.
Turns out, he held the ball to protect his catcher — Grayson Greiner.
"Grayson was setting up and he caught his cleat and started tripping,” Boyd said. “I was going to throw a back-door slider and his face was going to be right where I wanted to throw it. He kind of recovered (his balance) but I wasn’t going to throw it and hit him in the face mask, or in his neck.
“That’s why I held on. It was just a ball.”
Boyd got Sano to ground out two pitches later. No harm, no foul.
This bouncing back and forth between the bullpen and the rotation, it’s not new to Tigers right-hander Artie Lewicki.
In fact, he put himself on the radar in the 2014 College World Series by becoming the University of Virginia’s super reliever, winning three games and saving another in the Cavaliers’ run. In fact, he still has the notes he took on how to make the conversion from that year.
“Yeah, believe it or not, I actually wrote all the things down that I did in the pen then,” he said. “So I went back to that when I was sent back to the pen here. Starting is my bread and butter, that’s what I’ve done the most.
“But it’s to have something to go back to, to help get myself ready.”
He can put those bullpen notes away for the time being. He’s getting another opportunity to establish himself in the Tigers rotation. He will start against the White Sox Monday, essentially replacing Mike Fiers (who was traded to the Athletics) in the rotation.
“This is exactly what we sent him down (to Triple-A Toledo) for the last time,” Gardenhire said. “We wanted him to stretch out and be ready for this. We knew the trade deadline was coming up and we could lose a pitcher.
“He was going to be the first guy to step in. We made that plan. We said he was the guy who deserved it. We like his arm. Now we’re going to see what he does up here. He’s going to get an opportunity.”
There was a minor hiccup in that plan, though. When Fiers was traded, Lewicki had just started at Toledo and wasn’t available to take Fiers’ spot right away. Right-hander Jacob Turner got the first start in Anaheim last week
Better one start late than never, though.
“It’s great to get another opportunity, but eventually you have to produce to keep getting them,” Lewicki said. “I think I’ve shown enough to get this opportunity, and I hope I can establish myself here.”
Ruining a debut
The Tigers spoiled the big-league debut of Twins right-hander Kohl Stewart Sunday, knocking him out with a three-run outburst in the fifth inning.
Singles by Greiner and Victor Reyes set the table. Jeimer Candelario singled in the first run.
After an infield single by Jose Iglesias loaded the bases, Stewart walked Niko Goodrum to force in the second run. Candelario then scored on a fly ball to fairly shallow right field by Victor Martinez.
“We got some hits,” Gardenhire said of the Tigers’ nine-hit attack. “Some of the young guys came through. It was a nice ballgame for us.”
Stewart was the fourth overall pick in the 2013 draft, selected by the Twins after Mark Appel (Astros), Kris Bryant (Cubs) and Jon Gray (Rockies).
On deck: White Sox
Series: Three-game series at Comerica Park.
First pitch: Monday-Tuesday – 7:10 p.m.; Wednesday – 1:10 p.m.
TV/radio: Monday-Wednesday – FSD/97.1 FM.
Probables: Monday – RHP Reynaldo Lopez (4-9, 4.30) vs. RHP Artie Lewicki (0-2, 4.76); Tuesday – RHP Lucas Giolito (7-9, 6.23) vs. LHP Blaine Hardy (4-4, 3.63); Wednesday – LHP Carlos Rodon (3-3, 2.61) vs. RHP Jordan Zimmermann (5-4, 3.98).
Lopez, White Sox: This will be the third time the Tigers have faced him. They beat him in April and June, but he pitched well in both games (four runs in 13 innings). In his last two starts, against the Royals and Yankees, he’s allowed three runs in 14 innings with 10 strikeouts.
Lewicki, Tigers: This will be his third start of the season – the first two didn’t go all that well (five earned runs in eight innings back in June). But he has pitched well in long relief and will be given an opportunity to establish himself in the rotation down the stretch.