Tigers shut down Spencer Turnbull until after All-Star break

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News
Tigers pitcher Spencer Turnbull

Detroit — Spencer Turnbull came to the ballpark Friday and, like he does the day after every start, he ran the stadium steps at Comerica Park and went through his day-after routine.

But he wasn't fooling anybody.

"He came in feeling fine, but we're not going to risk anything here," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We're not going to push him."

Turnbull, who was pulled after two innings on Thursday when the velocity on his fastball was down some 5 mph, was put on the 10-day injured list with right shoulder fatigue. He won't make another start until after the All-Star break.

"We're just going to back him away and not take any chances, even though he says he feels fine," Gardenhire said. "The MRI was fine, no structural damage. But we're going to let him sit back for a little bit."

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There are a couple of issues at play here. One, Turnbull has had a history of shoulder problems in the minor leagues, including a rotator cuff strain two years ago. On top of that, his innings count is at 89.2 this season. 

The most he's pitched in any professional season was 135.2 innings between the minors and the Tigers last season. 

"He's going to pass that up in the second half, believe me," Gardenhire said. "But we're going to be smart about it, as we would with any pitcher."

Turnbull, 26 and in his rookie season, isn't on an official innings limit, Gardenhire said. But he and pitching coach Rick Anderson have mapped out a strategy to get Turnbull through the season without a drastic increase in his workload.

Turnbull is the fifth Tigers starting pitcher to hit the injured list. Matt Moore and Michael Fulmer are out for the season. There is still no timetable for the return of Tyson Ross, and Jordan Zimmermann has just gotten back after missing nearly two months.

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That, coupled with injuries and struggles from several of the starters at Triple-A Toledo — Ryan Carpenter, Matt Hall, Kyle Funkhouser and Beau Burrows — have left the organization extremely strapped.

"It's not an easy thing," Gardenhire said. "We're just looking for healthy arms right now. We've taxed this organization as much as you can tax it."

After the game, the Tigers called up lefty Gregory Soto to start Saturday. He will be on short rest and would do well to give the Tigers four innings. It will be his sixth spot start for the Tigers this season. 

The Tigers still have to select somebody to fill Turnbull's spot in the rotation. Funkhouser, Burrows and possibly Drew VerHagen would be candidates. 

Reyes up, Reyes down

Victor Reyes continues to be the Tigers' yo-yo player this season.

He was called up Friday, hit leadoff and played a strong defensive game, and then was sent back to Toledo to make room for Soto.

"Every time he comes up here he puts nice swings on the ball," Gardenhire said. "That's why we need him to go back down and just keep swinging. Because if there's an injury, he's going to be a guy as we go along.

"He's really grown and he's playing good baseball."

Reyes got the start in center field in place of JaCoby Jones, who was nursing a sore foot, and started a spectacular double play in the eighth inning. 

With Adam Eaton on first, Reyes ran down a 400-plus foot drive to the wall in center from Anthony Rendon. He bounced off the wall and made a powerful throw right to the bag at second base.

Harold Castro applied the tag at second base, completing the 8-4 double play.

Around the horn

Tigers starter Daniel Norris could laugh about it afterward. At the time, when Juan Soto hit a center-cut fastball onto the Pepsi Porch well beyond the right field wall in the second inning, it wasn't that funny. 

"I slipped on the pitch," Norris said. "Obviously I'm not trying to throw the ball right there. I was trying to go down and away. I slipped, threw it right down the middle and he hit it out of the stadium." 

Nationals at Tigers

First pitch: 4:10 p.m. Saturday, Comerica Park, Detroit

TV/Radio: FS1, FSD/ 97.1

Scouting report:

►RHP Austin Voth (0-0, 3.00), Nationals: Recalled from Triple-A last week, this will be the second start for the 27-year-old rookie. He pitched six strong innings against the Braves last weekend, allowing two solo home runs and striking out seven in six innings. The Braves were 2-for-15 against his 94-mph fastball.

►TBA, Tigers: The Tigers were going to announce the starter after the game Friday. Most likely, lefty Gregory Soto could be summoned from Toledo. It would be his sixth start this season.


Twitter: @cmccosky