Detroit — Remember when manager Ron Gardenhire, on the day the Tigers retired Jack Morris’ No. 47 (Aug. 12), pulled Matthew Boyd from his start after 90 pitches, even though he’d only given up two hits?
Boyd wasn’t happy about it and he voiced his displeasure to Gardenhire in the dugout.
"I can't even tell you what he told me (in the dugout)," Gardenhire said after that game. "It was great. It was one of the greatest lines ever. You will see it on a T-shirt one day. It was beautiful.”
That day was Wednesday. Waiting at every player’s locker, courtesy of the skipper, were blue T-shirts with Boyd’s enlarged face on the front. On the back was the quote, at least how Gardenhire wrote it down, which he entitled a Boydism: “This is what I train for. I’m programmed for this.”
Boyd got a good chuckle out of it, for sure.
“You can’t get away with anything with Gardy,” he said. “You say something stupid around him, he’s going to take it down.”
Boyd, though, thinks his manager may have embellished the second quote a bit.
“When he told me I was coming out, I was telling him, ‘I trained for more than this, I trained for 115 pitches. I’m good. I’m good,’” Boyd said. “I’m not going to call my coach a liar but the second quote about me being programmed, not sure about that one.
“But it’s all in good fun.”
This wasn’t the first time something a player said to Gardy got on a T-shirt.
“Jake Lamb (Diamondbacks third baseman) texted me,” Boyd said. “Gardy got him last year in Arizona. Lambisms, he called it. He said, ‘You say something stupid and he’ll get you.’ Well, he got me.
“I knew these were coming. I got one for my wife; I’m sure she’ll enjoy it.”
Boyd, who will start Thursday against the White Sox in the opener of a four-game set, has another quote, one he’d much rather have on a T-shirt than, “This is what I trained for.”
“Complacency is the enemy of success.”
So, even though he is having a breakout year, even though over his last six starts his ERA is 2.95 and opponents are hitting .193 with 34 strikeouts and five walks, and even though he ranks seventh among American League starters with a .215 opponents’ batting average and 10th with a 1.11 WHIP, he’s far from satisfied.
“The way things have gone, the growth that’s happened, it’s good to see the fruits of that in that sense (being among the league leaders),” Boyd said. “At the same time, I’m looking ahead, at the next few years. I realize I can be even better and I know how to do that.
“That’s my goal and I am excited about what’s to come.”
Fulmer back, Hardy to 'pen
As was suspected, Michael Fulmer will return to the Tigers rotation on Friday against the White Sox. It will be his first start since he went on the disabled list with an oblique strain July 20.
“He’s going to be limited to about 70 pitches,” Gardenhire said. “He’s passed all the tests and feels great. This is the right thing to do.”
Gardenhire said the tentative plan going forward would be to leave left-hander Ryan Carpenter in the rotation and to have Blaine Hardy move back to the bullpen once he comes off the disabled list Monday.
“We have to make a decision on how we’re going to go on that one,” Gardenhire said. “We’ve been talking about moving Hardy back to the bullpen. It would be better for him. Andy (pitching coach Rick Anderson) brought it up and Hardy seemed to agree. Nothing is finalized yet.”
Hardy went on the DL with elbow tendinitis. He threw a bullpen Wednesday and felt no pain. He feels he’s ready to return to the roster.
“I get it,” Hardy said. “Yeah, I’d love to go back in the rotation. But at the same time, I have took forward and keep my arm healthy. Pitching out of the pen is easier on my arm than starting.”
The Tigers told him they would be cautious with his usage coming out of the bullpen.
“It all makes sense,” Hardy said. “It’s better for me and it’s better for them. It’s good for everyone.”
Make no mistake about it, though, Hardy plans on competing for a rotation spot next season.
“Unless they tell me otherwise, I am going to prepare to be a starter this offseason,” he said. “Then, worst-case scenario, I just jump right back into the bullpen.”
Around the horn
Center fielder JaCoby Jones will join the Mud Hens in Toledo on Friday for a three-game rehab assignment, Gardenhire said.
…Left-hander Daniel Norris (groin) made a three-inning rehab appearance with High-A Lakeland Tuesday night. He allowed a run on two hits with four strikeouts.
…The Tigers’ 2-1 win over the Cubs Tuesday was their 40th one-run game, the third most in the American League. They are 18-22 in those games.
…The Tigers have changed the start time of the home game against the Astros on Sept. 10 to 6:10 p.m.
On deck: White Sox
Series: Four-game series at Comerica Park, Detroit
First pitch: Thursday — 1:10 p.m.; Friday — 7:10 p.m.; Saturday — 6:10 p.m.; Sunday — 1:10 p.m.
TV/radio: All games on FSD/97.1
Probables:Thursday — RHP James Shields (5-14, 4.39) vs. LHP Matthew Boyd (7-11, 4.27); Friday — RHP Reynaldo Lopez (4-9, 4.72) vs. RHP Michael Fulmer (3-9, 4.50); Saturday — RHP Lucas Giolito (9-9, 6.08) vs. LHP Ryan Carpenter (1-1, 6.00); Sunday — RHP Michael Kepech (0-0, 0.00) vs. RHP Jordan Zimmermann (6-5, 4.18).
Shields, White Sox: The Tigers have beaten him three times this season, but in his career, he is 6-2 with a 3.35 ERA in 12 starts at Comerica Park. The White Sox are 2-1 in his last three starts. He has allowed seven earned runs in 20 innings with 15 strikeouts.
Boyd, Tigers: His ERA over his last six starts is under 3.00 (2.95) and opponents are hitting under .200 (.193). He has a 34-5 strikeout-to-walk rate. On the season, his .215 opponents’ batting average is seventh best among A.L. starters and his 1.11 WHIP is 10th.