Tigers place Miguel Cabrera on injured with biceps strain; Renato Nunez activated

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News

Cleveland — Not much good seems to happen to the Tigers in this city.

It’s bad enough they’ve posted a 7-24 record at Progressive Field since 2017. Bad enough starting pitcher Julio Teheran felt tightness in his right triceps and shoulder while warming up here Friday night and will be lost until June at the earliest.

Miguel Cabrera has bought into new manager AJ Hinch's philosophies.

But now this: The Tigers on Sunday placed Miguel Cabrera on the 10-day injured list with a strained left biceps. Cabrera appeared to wince after he fouled a pitch off in the seventh inning Saturday night. He finished that at-bat and played two more innings at first base, but clearly he wasn’t comfortable.

"I didn't like that he altered his swing to compensate for it," manager AJ Hinch said. "That bothered me. That's what got me over the edge last night. He wasn't in a tremendous amount of pain, but we have to find some answers to why it was hindering his confidence and comfort."

Cabrera has a history of trouble in that left biceps. He strained it and missed time in 2016 and then ruptured a tendon in it in June of 2018 and missed the rest of the season. Hinch said Cabrera had been feeling a grab in his biceps for a few days. 

"Watching him swing with two hands and not be able to finish with his natural one-hand swing, I told him I didn't want him to keep fighting it," Hinch said. "Let's get it checked out and make sure we nip it pretty early."

Cabrera was scheduled to go through a battery of tests Sunday in Cleveland and remain with the team through the rest of the road trip. 

So, for the second time in two days, the Tigers had to shuffle the deck.

Renato Nunez, a non-roster invitee who was cut at the end of spring training, was activated off the taxi squad and got the start at designated hitter Sunday.

"He's going to get quite a bit of playing time," Hinch said. "Looking ahead, he will probably play two out of the three games at first base in Houston and we will face some left-handed pitching in Oakland, too. So he will get a fair amount of playing time."

To make room for Nunez on the 40-man roster, the Tigers moved Teheran from the 10-day injured list to the 60-day injured list. The club also added shortstop Zack Short and reliever Joe Jimenez to the taxi squad. 

Nunez is coming off a two-season run in Baltimore where he hit 43 homers and knocked in 121 runs. He had a chance to become a free agent after the Tigers cut him, but he chose to accept an assignment to Triple-A Toledo.

“He stuck with us because he thinks he has an opportunity and we think he has an opportunity to help us at some point,” Hinch said Saturday morning before Cabrera was injured. “He’s a true professional. He’s been very upbeat, very happy. He hasn’t pouted. He hasn’t complained. He’s just putting in work and waiting for an opportunity to join our club.

“So it was an easy call to bring him as a taxi-squad member to reward that kind of mentality and veteran presence. If it wasn’t for his work and his attitude, we wouldn’t want him here.”  

Nunez said he had a couple of offers from other teams, but they weren’t big-league deals. All things being equal, he preferred to stay in the Tigers’ organization.  

“When I was here in spring training, I liked the team and the coaching staff,” Nunez said. “I like the players that we have. I decided to stay here. I really like this place and hopefully I’ll be here sooner than later.”

Little did he know he’d end up in the starting lineup less than 24 hours later.

On deck: Tigers at Astros

Series: Three-game series at Minute Maid Park, Houston

First pitch: Monday-Tuesday — 8:10 p.m.; Wednesday — 7:10 p.m

TV/radio: Monday-Wednesday — BSDet/97.1 FM

Probables: Monday — RHP Casey Mize (0-0, 2.25) vs. RHP Zack Greinke (1-0, 1.38); Tuesday — LHP Matthew Boyd (1-1, 2.13) vs. RHP Jake Odorizzi (2021 debut); Wednesday — RHP Michael Fulmer (0-0, 2.57) vs. Lance McCullers, Jr. (1-0, 1.80).

Mize, Tigers: His pitch count got away from him a bit in the first outing. He needed 82 pitches to get through four innings. But his stuff was electric. His four-seam fastball averaged 96 mph and he used his slider, sinker and splitter smartly.

Greinke, Astros: This will be his third start of the season and he’s been lights-out in the first two. Against the Athletics and Angels, he allowed just two runs in 13 innings with eight strikeouts and one walk. Working off an 88-mph four-seam fastball, Greinke has limited hitters to four hits in 27 at-bats with his change-up, curve and slider.


Twitter: @cmccosky