Detroit-Toledo shuttle working overtime, Tigers call up trio of players
Detroit — For the second day in a row, the Tigers lost the services of a player hours before the first pitch of the game was even thrown.
On Wednesday, infielder Harold Castro was scratched after injuring his right hand during early infield drills. Thursday’s incident was more frightening.
Reliever Rony Garcia, who was expected to pitch multiple innings against the Mariners, collapsed on the outfield grass behind shortstop while playing long toss. He wasn’t able to walk off the field on his own power.
Turns out, he sprained his left knee and was placed in the injured list.
"He's got a meniscus issue," manager AJ Hinch said. "He's going to see a couple of doctors. It doesn't look great. He's in a lot of pain. I feel bad for Rony. It looks like it's going to be a rough one."
This happened just a few minutes after Hinch addressed the media about center fielder Derek Hill (shoulder sprain) and reliever Derek Holland (shoulder strain) going on the injured list.
“We’re running through a lot of guys right now,” Hinch said. “It feels like we’re getting hit with the injury bug a little bit.”
Counting Garcia, Hill and Holland, the Tigers have 10 players on the injured list, plus third baseman Jeimer Candelario remains on the bereavement list. Harold Castro was available Thursday. In the last four days, five players have been purchased or recalled from Toledo — pitchers Jason Foley, Alex Lange and Beau Burrows, outfielder Daz Cameron and infielder Isaac Paredes.
Losing Garcia on a day when Hinch was hoping to cover all nine innings with relievers was suboptimal, especially since relievers Jose Cisnero, Daniel Norris and Kyle Funkhouser were likely unavailable after pitching in high-stress innings Wednesday night.
The Tigers called up right-hander Lange from Triple-A Toledo to take Holland’s spot on the roster. Holland, who was on the injured list for 24 days in May with a shoulder strain, faced four hitters Wednesday night and reported the discomfort after.
“It’s a different injury than the one before, it’s in a different area of his shoulder,” Hinch said. “His velocity last night was lower than it was in Milwaukee when he first came back off the IL. After he came out of the game, Doug (Teter, head athletic trainer) told me he was being evaluated by the doctors.”
Burrows, a former No. 1 pick, was hastily summoned to replace Garcia. Burrows, who made his big-league debut last year, had a 6.23 ERA (12 runs in 17⅓ innings) at Toledo.
The medical report on Hill was encouraging, though. He suffered a Grade 1 sprain of his right shoulder after crashing into the wall in center after making a spectacular running catch of a 400-plus foot blast by Mariners' Kyle Seager in the first inning Wednesday.
“He was moving around surprisingly well,” Hinch said. “But given it’s going to be a week, we needed to make a move and let it calm down.”
Hill’s injury creates an opportunity for 24-year-old Cameron, who had been smashing baseballs at Toledo (.338/.400/.558 with seven doubles, two triples and two home runs in 18 games).
“He was playing very well and swinging the bat really well,” Hinch said. “And he was playing good defense. I’m glad we reintroduced him to center field in the spring. He had a big smile on his face when he walked into the clubhouse today.”
Cameron, the No. 9 prospect in the Tigers system per MLB Pipeline, was one of two players acquired from Houston in the Justin Verlander trade in 2017 in the starting lineup Thursday — Cameron and catcher Jake Rogers.
“Daz can do a lot,” Hinch said. “We didn’t get a ton of looks at him this spring, but he made a nice impression behind the scenes with the work he was doing. We’ll see if that can translate into the big leagues.”
Cameron, who fought through an arm injury and the COVID-19 virus this spring, made a 17-game debut with the Tigers last season, hitting .193. He walked, stole a base and scored a run in the Tigers' 8-3 win Thursday.
“I just want him to go play and catch the ball wherever it’s hit,” Hinch said. “The communication with the corner outfielders is going to be very important. He hasn’t had a lot of experience with those particular guys — Eric Haase in left, Robbie Grossman in right, Cameron in center was not an alignment we practiced in the spring.”
The outfield could be in the state of flux for a while. Hill’s injury isn’t expected to keep him out much past the 10-day IL stint, and Victor Reyes (intercostal strain) is in Lakeland, getting ready to start a rehab stint.
The Tigers learned before the game that outfielder JaCoby Jones cleared waivers. Jones, who was designated for assignment over the weekend, opted to re-sign back with the Tigers on a minor-league deal.
“The outfield is going to open up a little bit,” Hinch said. “And when guys start getting back we are going to have to reset things.”