Detroit – There had to be more to it, and there was.
Ron Gardenhire, at the end of his post-game press conference Thursday night, announced that veteran reliever Blaine Hardy had been optioned to Triple-A Toledo. Hardy, who along with Buck Farmer, are now the veterans of the Tigers bullpen and he’d pitched in three of the four games before Thursday night.
The news seemed abrupt, even if he had struggled in those three outings.
On Friday, general manager Al Avila cleared it up. Hardy is seeking a second opinion on his aching left elbow and has an appointment with Dr. James Andrews next week.
“We optioned him to Toledo and as you know, he’s had some issues with his arm,” Avila said. “He was available to pitch (Thursday) but we optioned him back. He requested to have an opinion from a second doctor.”
Hardy has pitched with elbow inflammation all season. It forced him to all but abandon a pitch he had great success with last season – the cutter. Pitching coach Rick Anderson and Gardenhire both carefully managed his work load, mostly limiting him to one-inning outings.
As recent as last week, Hardy said the elbow had been calm. Then came his last three outings, where his fastball velocity was down to 86-87 mph and his normally pinpoint command got spotty. He gave up six hits in just two-thirds of an inning and allowed a run and three inherited runners to score.
“Dr. Andrews won’t be available until next week, so he will take his allotted 72 hours to report and he’ll go on the minor league injured list,” Avila said. “Once he sees Dr. Andrews, then that will basically determine his baseball future.”
Hardy is 32 and has been with the Tigers since 2014. If Tommy John surgery is required, his career could be in jeopardy.
No IL for Jones
Tigers center fielder JaCoby Jones may have dodged a bullet Thursday night. He was hit in the left wrist by a fastball from Royals pitcher Jorge Lopez in the second inning. It missed his wrist bone by a fraction of an inch and caught him on a meatier part of the wrist.
He was still sore and had an ice wrap on it before Friday's game. Jones wasn’t in the starting lineup, and Gardenhire wasn’t sure whether he’d be available to pinch-hit or play defense late in the game.
“He definitely feels better than last night,” Gardenhire said. “But no injured list and that’s a good thing. He will test it out before the game and see. He could pinch-run, for sure.”