Tigers recall RHP Jason Foley, designate righty Erasmo Ramirez for assignment

By Steve Kornacki
Special to The Detroit News

Detroit — Moves with an eye on the future were made by the Detroit Tigers prior to Friday night’s game with the Toronto Blue Jays.

The Tigers made a bullpen swap, calling up rookie right-hander Jason Foley and designating veteran right-hander Erasmo Ramirez for assignment.

Jason Foley

It also was time for power-hitting catcher Eric Haase (.238, 19 homers and 49 RBI) to return from a right abdominal strain that had placed him on the injured list. Catcher Grayson Greiner (.236, 1 homer, 7 RBI) was the odd-man out because the Tigers are sold on recently-acquired Dustin Garneau  as the backup backstop.

The Tigers also released first baseman Renato Nunez. Nunez, who was designated for assignment Aug. 21 then reported to Toledo on Aug. 23, hit .189 in 14 games with Detroit. He hit four homers with 17 RBIs and 16 strikeouts.  

And there is one more roster move coming prior to Saturday night’s game, when Jose Urena (2-8, 6.19 ERA) returns to start after going on the 10-day injured list July 17 with a right groin strain. Left-hander Ian Krol has been designated for assignment.

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Tigers manager AJ Hinch discussed the moves Friday prior to batting practice.

“Erasmo struggled for the better part of the last month,” Hinch said. "Ramirez had a 6.75 ERA in August, seeing that season-long statistic balloon from 4.32 to 5.74 as a result. “Foley’s thrown the ball very good since we sent him down, and has had a taste of the big leagues.

“We want to look at guys who have more of an opportunity to be here next year. He could have an opportunity to be here next year. Unfortunately, it cost Erasmo a spot. It’s a bad time to struggle at this time of the year when decisions are beginning to be made.

“And, quite honestly, we’re running out of time to evaluate the younger pitchers that want to factor into offseason plans.”

Hinch and Tigers general manager Al Avila will use the remaining 34 games this season to help determine that.

“We’re trying to win tonight’s game and take care of tomorrow’s decisions,” Hinch said.

Foley, 25, made his MLB debut June 6 with Detroit and had a 3.60 ERA while throwing five innings over four games. He struck out two and didn’t walk anybody, but did hit three batters.

Foley (6-foot-4, 215 pounds), who throws his fastball consistently in the mid-90s, was 1-1 with a 3.94 ERA in 28 games with Toledo, striking out 29 in 29.2 innings. He was an undrafted free agent signed by the Tigers in 2016 out of Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Conn.

Garneau is also being evaluated with an eye on next season, Hinch said.

“I trust Garneau to run a game,” he said. “Obviously, I feel bad for Greiner. … He contributes when he gets in there and has some things to work on. But the reality is that one good story is at the expense of a tough conversation on the other end.

“Garneau can really run a good game and puts up a good at-bat when he stays inside the strike zone. Ultimately, we need to keep our depth. And as unfair as that sounds to Grayson, having an option (to the minors) hurt. I don’t want to mislead anyone that it could have gone either way. But us acquiring Dustin was for a reason, and we’re going to keep him moving forward.”

Hinch is familiar with Garneau, whom the Tigers purchased Aug. 18 from the Colorado Rockies. Garneau had some brief playing time in the 2020 postseason with the Houston Astros.

On Haase, Hinch said, “He’s healthy. You could see it in his first game back (on a rehabilitation assignment at Toledo). He hit a homer and caught nine innings, and then was the DH (Thursday). … He’ll go back to his usual role of two (games) on and one (game) off. We may mix in a game in left field, and it’s a big boost. He’s impressive and swings a good bat.”

Steve Kornacki is a freelance writer.

On deck: Blue Jays

First pitch: 6:10 p.m. Saturday, Comerica Park

TV/radio: BSD/97.1 FM

Scouting report

RHP Jose Urena (2-8, 6.19), Tigers: Detroit will start Urena, who has been out since July 17 with a right groin strain, and has been inconsistent at best this season. Tigers manager AJ Hinch said valuable and versatile left-hander Tyler Alexander will come in behind Urena. Detroit has won six of the last seven games he’s started, and he was particularly sharp in facing the Blue Jays in Toronto on Aug. 20. Alexander allowed one run on four hits with two walks and six strikeouts over seven innings.

RHP Alex Manoah (5-2, 3.18), Blue Jays: The big expectations placed on this big hurler (6-foot-6, 260 pounds) are beginning to be realized. Toronto’s first-round pick out of West Virginia in 2019 has 78 strikeouts in 68 innings pitched with a 110 WHIP. He’s been sharp of late, but was roughed up (six runs in three innings) two starts back by the Washington Nationals.

— Steve Kornacki