The Tigers have pulled back Matt Manning from his minor league rehab stint after he was diagnosed with biceps tendinitis, manager A.J. Hinch told reporters last night (via Cody Stavenhagen of the Athletic and Jason Beck of MLB.com). Hinch didn’t provide a specific timetable for when the right-hander may again get back to the mound, but he noted it wouldn’t be for the “foreseeable future.”
Manning first landed on the injured list in mid-April due to shoulder inflammation. He went to Triple-A Toledo on May 8 to begin a rehab stint, seemingly positioning him to return by the end of the month. Manning was pulled early from a start with the Mud Hens last Thursday, but general manager Al Avila suggested afterwards that was unrelated to any arm soreness and instead because the 24-year-old felt light-headed.
The Tigers sent Manning back out with Toledo on Tuesday, suggesting they weren’t concerned about whatever caused his early departure last week. He made it through just 1 2/3 innings and issued a pair of walks — bringing his total to seven free passes in his last 7 2/3 Triple-A frames — before informing the team of his arm discomfort. After revealing the biceps issue, Manning now looks in line for a lengthy absence.
It’s the latest in a series of blows to the Detroit rotation, which has been decimated by injury. Of Detroit’s season-opening starting five, four — Manning, Casey Mize, Eduardo Rodríguez and Tyler Alexander — are on the IL. So is veteran Michael Pineda, who was expected to take Alexander’s spot at the back end after a few build-up outings in Toledo. Detroit entered the year knowing they’d be without Spencer Turnbull, who underwent Tommy John surgery last July and won’t be an option until the tail end of the season at the earliest.
That the Tigers still rank middle-of-the-pack with a 4.19 rotation ERA is fairly impressive — largely attributable to a breakout season from their lone healthy top starter, Tarik Skubal. Beyond Skubal, Detroit has been left turning things over to Alex Faedo, Beau Brieske and Elvin Rodríguez, while they’re in the process of stretching out Rony García from relief. That’s obviously not ideal, and when paired with an offense that has been largely ineffective, has led to a disappointing 16-28 start.
Manning, Mize and Skubal were each top prospects before they reached the big leagues, with the Tigers envisioning that trio anchoring their next contender. Mize had the best 2021 numbers of the group, while Skubal has emerged as one of the top arms in the American League this season. Manning has yet to have much success at the big league level. The 24-year-old posted a 5.80 ERA across 85 1/3 innings last year, and he’s been limited to two starts this season.
Hinch did offer a moderately encouraging update on Mize, who has also been down since mid-April with an elbow sprain. He’s hoping to begin a throwing program by next week (Stavenhagen link). Given that he hasn’t pitched in six weeks, the righty will certainly need some time to build up arm strength before heading out on a rehab stint of his own.
The timeline is clearer for top outfield prospect Riley Greene, whom Evan Petzold of the Detroit Free-Press reports is set to begin a rehab assignment tonight with Low-A Lakeland. Viewed as a candidate to break camp with the club as the Opening Day center fielder, Greene instead suffered a foot fracture late in Spring Training. That has kept the former #5 overall pick on the injured list all season, but it seems he’s nearing a return. Greene has yet to make his big league debut, but Detroit’s sputtering lineup should afford him an opportunity fairly quickly after he works back into game shape.