Tigers, Hinch resisting temptation to bring the 'Funk' into the rotation
Minneapolis – Tigers manager AJ Hinch admits it is tempting. And it’s been a topic of discussion.
But, no, there are no plans to transition right-hander Kyle Funkhouser into a starting role.
“We’re not going to stretch him out,” Hinch said Saturday before Funkhouser got the ball first in a bullpen game against the Twins. “We’re going to leave him in that one-to-three inning stint as of now.”
The Tigers rotation, though it’s held up remarkably well, has been without veterans Matthew Boyd (elbow) and Spencer Turnbull (forearm) for more than four weeks. Hinch said he doesn’t expect Boyd back until sometime in August and Turnbull, after having to shut down his throwing program a second time, could be out longer than that.
In addition, veteran Jose Urena has struggled for more than a month to get through five innings and rookie Casey Mize is being used essentially as an opener for the next couple of starts to limit his workload.
Wily Peralta, who has pitched 16 scoreless innings since stepping into the rotation, and rookie Tarik Skubal have been stalwarts in this stretch.
Funkhouser, a former No. 1 pick of the Dodgers, came up in the Tigers’ system as a starter. But he’s made his mark in the big leagues out of the bullpen.
“I think Kyle is in such a good place and doing so much for us,” Hinch said. “If we did stretch him out, I would stretch him out for the entire season. The back and forth is completely unfair to him. He’s found his niche. He can help us win a lot of game by being a trouble-shooter in there.
“It is enticing based on need, but unfair to the player.”
Although the Tigers optioned rookie right-hander Matt Manning to Triple-A Toledo Friday night, he won’t be pitching in any games for the Mud Hens.
The move was made for a couple of reasons: One, to manage Manning’s workload. He’s thrown 54 innings and 886 pitches already this season after not pitching at all last year. Two, the Tigers need fresh bullpen arms with a bullpen game on Saturday and a double-header the first day back after the All-Star break.
“There is going to be a 10 to 12-day gap (for Manning) and we need the extra arm,” Hinch said. “And Matt’s going to be on the back end of the rotation when he comes back. So this isn’t surprising. We get a chance to add an extra arm.”
Manning is expected to be recalled in time to start at some point in the second home series after the break, against Texas.
“Quite honestly, we’re saving as many innings for the rotation as we can for the back half of the season,” Hinch said. “And Matt will be a part of that.”
Manning stayed with the club in Minneapolis as a member of the taxi squad. He will go home to Detroit during the break and begin a maintenance program, working both at Comerica Park and in Toledo.
“It’s very itemized what we’re going to do with him over the next 10 to 12 days,” Hinch said. “He’s going to be prepped and ready to go when we need him.”
No star game
Jonathan Schoop, despite some campaigning by his manager, was not selected as a replacement player to the American League All-Star team.
Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash selected his own player, Joey Wendle, to replace Astros second baseman Jose Altuve, who pulled out of the game.
White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson and Royals Whit Merrifield were also selected as replacements.
“Jonathan was certainly worthy,” Hinch said before the game. “I did text ‘Vote Schoop’ to Kevin Cash, so hopefully.”
Nope on Schoop.
Around the horn
… Nomar Mazara, originally in the lineup in right field Saturday, took ill and was scratched before the game. Niko Goodrum, originally starting at shortstop, was moved to left field and Zack Short got the start at shortstop.
… Hinch said there’s been no final decision on adding another coach to the staff to replace Chip Hale, who left to take the head coaching job at the University of Arizona. “We will deal with it over the break,” he said. “If I was to predict what’s going to happen, we’re going to stay status quo.”