Another starter down: Eduardo Rodriguez exits early with side injury, Tigers drop finale
St. Petersburg, Fla. — Eduardo Rodriguez, with every pitch he threw during his pregame warm-up, started to get a bad feeling in his left side.
Twenty-three pitches into his start Wednesday against the Rays, it was clear the discomfort was debilitating and he signaled to the dugout for manager AJ Hinch and head athletic trainer Doug Teter.
Just like, yet another Tigers starting pitcher is heading to the injured list.
"When I was warming up I felt a little pinch in my left side," Rodriguez said after the Tigers had dropped the finale to the Rays, 6-1, at Tropicana Field. "I wasn't able to throw the ball as hard as I can. We're going to have to see the trainers and the doctors and see what it is."
Rodriguez's velocity was down on his sinker and four-seam fastball — 89 mph down from 92-93. He had already given up three runs and the bases were loaded with one out when he knew he couldn't go any farther.
"He tried to go out there and pitch but you could tell he was off," Hinch said. "He motioned toward the dugout at the same time I was walking out. He's going to be down for a bit. Likely going on the IL."
The Tigers already have four starting pitchers on the injured list — Casey Mize (elbow), Matt Manning (shoulder), Tyler Alexander (elbow) and Michael Pineda (finger). Spencer Turnbull (elbow) has been out all year recovering from Tommy John surgery.
It's been an almost inconceivable run of bad fortune.
"We're still going to play the games, so we have to figure it out," Hinch said. "Nobody is going to feel sorry for us."
Manning had his rehab start with Toledo rained out Wednesday. If he pitches Thursday and comes out of it healthy, he could be in line to start on May 24 at Minnesota.
The Tigers will also need a starter on May 23 in Minnesota. Lefty Joey Wentz, who made a spot start on May 11, would be on track to make that start if that's the route the club wants to go.
"We're going to test our depth, for sure," catcher Tucker Barnhart said. "Our bullpen has been fantastic. They've been able to cover a lot of innings. Guys have come up from the minor leagues and ate innings. I can't say enough good things about those guys.
"I hope we can continue to move forward and bide our time until we get some guys back."
The bullpen did, as Barnhart said, pick up the slack. Rony Garcia struck out Taylor Walls and Brett Phillips to end the first and keep the damage at three runs.
Garcia struck out six in 2⅔ innings but the only blemish was a loud one. He put a fastball in the wheelhouse of former Tiger Isaac Paredes, who launched it 411 feet into the seats in left.
Paredes, who the Tigers sent to Tampa for Austin Meadows, hit another home run deep into the seats in left in the eighth against reliever Wily Peralta.
It was the first multi-homer game of his career. Ironic, too, because the Tigers had waited two years for Paredes to show some power to the pull field and he never did, slugging .302 with two homers total in 193 plate appearances.
"He's a good player and we knew that," Hinch said. "We got a good player in return. But that ex-team thing is real at this level. He had a real nice game."
As big an issue for the Tigers as the injuries is the offense. It was limited to a run or less for the 11th time this season and it's generated just 41 runs in 18 games this month (2.27 per).
"We've got to play better," Hinch said. "We've got to hit better. We have to play more up-tempo. We have to get in the strike zone. I could go on for a while on what we need to do better."
Tigers hitters struck out 11 times Wednesday.
The one ray of light was rookie Spencer Torkelson, who doubled in the fifth inning and bashed his fourth home run of the year in the seventh — his first extra-base hits since April 23.
"I felt good today," Torkelson said. "I saw the ball well and I trusted my approach like I always do. It paid off."
He came into the game 4-for-38 this month, all singles.
"It takes a little weight off my back," he admitted. "But at the end of the day, we lost and (winning games) is what I'm here for. You forget about the home run and the double fast."