Spencer Turnbull (back) goes on injured list, Tigers down to three starting pitchers

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News

Detroit — Another day, another setback for a Tigers’ starting pitcher.

Spencer Turnbull, who threw 86 pitches in a six innings at Cleveland on Wednesday, was placed on the 10-day injured list before the game Saturday. He strained his upper back during a workout on Friday.

Tigers pitcher Spencer Turnbull was placed on the 10-day injury list due to a strained back.

“He played catch yesterday (after the workout) and it didn’t feel too good,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. “Then today he said there’s no chance. He was pretty sore. Just one of those things.”

Gardenhire and pitching coach Rick Anderson discussed perhaps pushing Turnbull’s next start back a few days, but ultimately determined that wouldn’t be enough time for the back to heal.

The Tigers were already operating without a fifth starter. Now they are down two starters.  

They are expected to call-up left-hander Tyler Alexander to start against the Blue Jays Sunday, though that has not been made official. No decision has been made on filling Turnbull’s spot.

Left-hander Gregory Soto, who has been starting at Triple-A Toledo and has made seven spot starts for the Tigers, was called up Saturday, but he will be used out of the bullpen initially, Gardenhire said.

“We’re starting him out in the pen and see where we go from there,” Gardenhire said. “We need pitchers. Our bullpen has been beat up. We have to have some length (multiple innings) and he’s a guy who can give us length right now.

“We need a body here. We need to protect ourselves.”

The silver lining to Turnbull being shut down now, it may allow him to make another start or two later in the season. He’s at 98⅔ innings now and wasn’t expected to exceed 140 or 150 innings this season.

“That’s a positive way to flip it,” Gardenhire joked. “I said the same thing myself.”


Twitter: @cmccosky