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Tigers' Boyd dodges COVID scare, stays on track for Opening Day start in Cincinnati

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News

Detroit – This is how fragile all this is.

Matthew Boyd, likely the Tigers Opening Day starter next Friday in Cincinnati, had to miss his scheduled pitching day on Tuesday because he came in contact with someone who was asymptomatic but had tested positive for the coronavirus.

"Luckily everything turned out OK, but that's kind of where we are at in this country and in this world," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We just have to deal with it the best we can. They went through the process and he's OK."

Tigers pitcher Matthew Boyd works on the mound during an intrasquad game at Detroit Tigers Summer Camp at Comerica Park in Detroit on July 15, 2020.

Boyd, who is asthmatic and at a higher risk for the virus, was home Monday night while a friend from the neighborhood, a high school senior, injured himself while mowing Boyd's lawn.

"I just reacted," Boyd said. "I went out to help him. I didn't get too close but I didn't wear a mask. His father came and picked him up and took him to the hospital. That's how he came to learn he had COVID."

The family informed Boyd of this at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday. Boyd was scheduled to throw live batting practice, which would keep him on schedule to start Opening Day.

"Once I got the word, I called and said I wasn't coming to the park," Boyd said. "I did contact tracing and a rapid test and it came back negative. I will get tested every day going forward.

"Better safe than sorry. We need to keep everyone safe here."

More: With a week before season begins, Tigers' 30-man roster starting to take shape

Boyd made up for lost time on Wednesday, throwing 60 pitches in four strong innings in the Tigers' intrasquad scrimmage. The plan now is to pitch again on Sunday, on four days of rest, and be ready for the opener. 

"We're not officially announcing that yet," Gardenhire said. "The Tigers would probably like to make that announcement before I do. When we decide he's the Opening Day starter, we will let you know. I can't announce that right now.

"But he's lined up to do that."

Boyd got himself in all kinds of trouble in the first inning. He gave up a lead-off single to Willi Castro on an 0-2 pitch that hung over the plate. Then, ahead 0-2 on Victor Reyes, he made an errant pick-off throw to first base.

He struck out Reyes then balked Castro to third. Boyd, inexplicably, stopped his delivery and didn’t throw the ball on his first pitch to Cameron Maybin. It looked like he thought catcher Austin Romine had called timeout. 

No worries, though. Boyd got Maybin and Christin Stewart to ground out to strand Castro at third.

A two-out home run by catcher Grayson Greiner – an opposite-field liner than banged off the foul pole in right – was the only other blemish on Boyd’s day. He dispatched the last seven hitters and 12 of the last 13.

"I worked all four pitches today with Romey (Romine)," Boyd said. "That was awesome. He's so talented back there, just a good game-caller. I learned a lot from it. It was a good day."

Non-roster invitee Riley Greene does a no-touch fist bump with Mike Hessman after Greene's solo home run during an intrasquad game at Detroit Tigers Summer Camp at Comerica Park in Detroit on July 15, 2020.

Greene Day, again

Tigers 19-year-old outfield prospect Riley Greene had another impressive outing.

First, playing right field, he took an RBI single away from Romine with a full-out diving catch on the chalk line in right field. Romine, a right-handed hitter, hit a low, slicing liner. Greene got a good jump on the ball and caught it just before it hit the ground.

In his second at-bat of the game, he struck out swinging at three straight change-ups from Buck Farmer. Next time up, against prospect Matt Manning, he attacked another change-up and hit it into the bullpen in left field

Game bits

►Center fielder Derek Hill made another spectacular catch. He robbed Harold Castro of an RBI single making a diving catch of a hard, sinking liner right in front of him.

►It was a rough outing for Manning. He gave up two runs and four hits in his first inning, with another run getting thrown out at the plate. Then he gave up the home run to Greene. By the stadium radar gun, which may have been sluggish, his fastball was sitting at 93 mph. He hit 95 twice.

►The two web gems aside, there was a lot of sloppy defensive play. Stewart in left field slow played a hard hit single by Hill into a double. Twice runners stole bases without a throw against over-shifted defensive alignments.

From left, Tigers' Niko Goodrum reacts after trying to beat the throw to Harold Castro at second base during an intrasquad game at Detroit Tigers Summer Camp at Comerica Park in Detroit on July 15, 2020.

►Jeimer Candelario had an impressive day at the plate. In his first two at-bats, he worked the count full and both times he slapped doubles. The first was a hustle double and the second was a screamer off the fence in right-center.

►Veteran Jordy Mercer, who is expected to play a utility role this season, had two more hits. He's had five hits in the last eight at-bats. 

►Starting center fielder JaCoby Jones was a late scratch. The team announced he had tightness in his left oblique. Gardenhire said he didn't believe it was serious, though he may sit out a "few days" as a precaution.

►.Outfielder Travis Demeritte had another setback. He has been battling a sore groin since camp started and now, Gardenhire said, his quad tightened up. 

► The Tigers added two right-handed pitchers to their 60-man player pool -- Alex Lange and Zack Hess.  

►This was the first night scrimmage of camp, also the first one with fake crowd noise piped in. 

Twitter @cmccosky