Detroit — It was an odd sight.
There was Tigers rookie Willi Castro getting in some early fielding work with Dawel Lugo, Ronny Rodriguez, Harold Castro and Jeimer Candelario before the game Tuesday. Infield coach Ramon Santiago was calling out situations and spraying ground balls.
Everybody else was picking and throwing. Not Willi Castro. He was picking it just fine, ranging to his left and right fluidly. But when it came to throwing it, he took off his glove, put the ball in his left hand and made some really funky-looking tosses.
Never once did he throw with his right arm.
“Yeah, because he got smoked in Oakland,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. “He got drilled in the forearm and it’s still pretty sore. We put him in the lineup today and we waited to see how he was, but the trainer (Doug Teter) told him it was not going to happen today.”
After the drills, Castro, who was hit in the second inning on Saturday by right-hander Chris Bassitt, had the forearm wrapped. He’s been treating the bruise with ice and electric stimulation.
“It’s still a little sore; they don’t want me to throw,” Castro said. “But I should be back in there tomorrow.”
Castro is just 57 plate appearances into his big-league career and already pitchers have honed in on one of his soft spots — off-speed and breaking balls. In the last seven games, he’s 3-for-27 with 12 strikeouts.
“I know what they’re doing,” Castro said. “They are pitching me away a lot, with off-speed. I will adjust to that.”
Castro, according to Statcast, is 2-for-15 against off-speed pitches and 1-for-13 against breaking balls (sliders and curveballs).
Niko still striving
It doesn’t look good for Niko Goodrum to return this season. He’s still working through a groin strain. But don’t try to tell him that.
“I’m going to go hit in the cage and then I’ll go run again and I will throw some,” Goodrum said. “That’s all I know. I don’t know what the plans are. I just come in every day for treatment.”
Time is running out. There are 19 days left in the season and, other than instructional league in Florida, there is no place for Goodrum to do a rehab assignment.
“I don’t believe there is enough time,” Gardenhire said. “He’s still sore. He gets treatment every day, but I don’t think the plan is for him to come back, unless there is a miracle in the next couple of days.”
The primary goal is for Goodrum to go into the offseason healthy. If he can get back and play in a few games, that would be considered a bonus.
“That’s what everybody is on the same page with,” Goodrum said. “As for the rest of the season, I’m not sure as far as being done. Nobody told me. I’m just trying to play.”
The Turnbull dilemma
With more starting pitching depth, the Tigers might have taken struggling right-hander Spencer Turnbull out of the rotation by now. In his last seven starts, since coming off the injured list, he’s allowed 26 runs and 36 hits in 28⅓ innings, with opponents hitting .316 with a .941 OPS.
He didn’t survive the second inning in his last start Friday in Oakland.
“He was not there,” Gardenhire said. “He was totally lost.”
Still, Turnbull is scheduled to make his next start Thursday against the Yankees.
“After that last start, I had a little conversation with Andy (pitching coach Rick Anderson),” Gardenhire said. “We just don’t have enough people to piggy-back everybody. We’ve got more pitchers here (with expanded rosters) but our starters are going four-five innings — we’re eating up four innings almost every night out of the bullpen.
“To take another one of those guys and get him piggy-backed, I don’t know how it’s going to work. We’ll just murder those guys (in the bullpen) if we do that.”
Daniel Norris is limited to three innings per start and Drew VerHagen has been essentially the tandem starter with him. Edwin Jackson and Jordan Zimmermann have been going five innings most starts. Only Matthew Boyd has provided consistent length.
Tyler Alexander, Matt Hall and Zac Reininger are the other long-relief options.
Gardenhire said the plan will be to alternate catchers Jake Rogers and Grayson Greiner every other day.
“You can’t run Jake out there every day when he’s striking out like this,” Gardenhire said. “It’s rough on him, for sure. He’s trying but it’s really a struggle for him to put the ball in play. If you run him out there every day, that’ll just burn him up.”
Rogers has nine hits in 88 at-bats and has struck out 45 times in 102 plate appearances since being called up from Triple-A Toledo at the end of July.
Rough night for Jackson
Things never seem to go right for Tigers starter Edwin Jackson against the Yankees. Before Tuesday, the Yankees had beaten him the last eight times he started against them and in four straight games he appeared in relief.
And on Tuesday, he gave up six runs in two innings, including a pair of solo home runs to Brett Gardner.
There was one positive for Jackson — he earned his 1,500th career strikeout, getting Sanchez in the second inning. He is the 21st active pitcher to post that milestone.
Around the horn
The Tigers have called up two coaches from Toledo — pitching coach Juan Nieves and hitting coach Mike Hessman.
Yankees at Tigers
First pitch: Wednesday, 6:40 p.m., Comerica Park, Detroit
TV/radio: FSD, 97.1
►LHP CC Sabathia (5-8, 4.93), Yankees: This will be the 39-year-old Sabathia’s 559th career start, his 41st against the Tigers (21-14, 4.16) and 20th at Comerica. The Yankees have been easing him back. In three starts since coming back from knee inflammation, he has gone three, four and three innings.
►LHP Matthew Boyd (8-10. 4.57), Tigers: He may lead the majors in home runs allowed (36), but the rest of his 2019 portfolio is pretty solid: 225 strikeouts (fifth in AL), 5.2 strikeout-to-walk (fifth), 1.19 WHIP (ninth), 3.4 WAR (10th). He beat the Yankees in New York on April 3, allowing a run with 13 strikeouts in 6.⅓ innings.