Lakeland, Fla. – Tigers reliever Drew VerHagen, Friday morning sitting in front of his locker munching on a couple of slices of avocado toast, didn’t seem overly stressed about whatever is going on with his right shoulder.
But then again, there isn’t a whole lot that ever gets the lanky, affable Texan overly stressed.
“I don’t think it should be anything too serious,” he said. “They gave me some anti-inflammatories to cool it down. Hopefully it’s just spring training cobwebs.”
VerHagen, after an out-of-nowhere rocky outing against the Braves Wednesday, told pitching coach Rick Anderson that he didn’t feel right. To which Anderson replied, “You didn’t look right.”
VerHagen said he felt tingling in his shoulder. His velocity was down and he was unable to command any of his pitches. He hasn’t thrown since.
“I’m not sure, they’re still running tests on it,” he said. “I kind of had symptoms of what they used call dead arm, but they were symptoms similar to the TOS stuff I used to have a couple of years ago. I just felt way off.”
TOS is Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, which VerHagen had surgically corrected in August 2016. He said he plans to talk to the surgeon about what he’s experiencing now.
“I think it’s pretty normal to have inflammation around the nerve, or scar tissue around the nerve,” he said. “But it shouldn’t be a long-term issue because everything they removed out of there gave me space around that nerve.”
TOS, simply put, is a group of malfunctions that happen when blood vessels or nerves get compressed in the space between the collarbone and first rib. It causes pain in the shoulder and neck are and can cause numbness in the fingers.
It is not uncommon after surgery for scar tissue to form and then get broken up.
“I felt it a little bit here and there,” VerHagen said. “Usually when I feel tight in that area, I end up within a week or two feeling a little bit of the symptoms. But this is probably the most I felt it since the surgery. But I think it’s too early to say what it is.
“They are running tests. But I really don’t think it’s anything. I think I should be fine.”
It would be a huge blow to the Tigers bullpen if VerHagen had to be shut down. He is expected to be a vital late-inning set-up man, along with Joe Jimenez, getting the game to closer Shane Greene.
The Tigers on Friday sent three pitchers down the hall to minor-league camp. Right-hander Sandy Baez and lefty Matt Hall were optioned to Triple-A Toledo. Hall is expected to pitch in the Mud Hens starting rotation, while Baez will work out of the bullpen.
Right-hander Franklin Perez, the Tigers’ No. 3-ranked prospect, was optioned to High-A Lakeland. His spring workload was limited to one Grapefruit League inning because of illness and a spasm in his right trap muscle.
The Tigers have 52 players in camp.