Tigers right-hander Michael Lorenzen is going to start the season on the 15-day injured list, manager A.J. Hinch indicated this afternoon (relayed by Chris McCosky of the Detroit News). The offseason signee is dealing with a left groin strain. Hinch indicated it’s not expected to be a serious issue but will require Lorenzen to miss a couple turns through the rotation.
Detroit brought the veteran in on a one-year, $8.5MM guarantee over the winter. He and fellow free agent pickup Matthew Boyd were added to take the final couple rotation spots beyond Eduardo Rodriguez, Spencer Turnbull and Matt Manning.
While that’s on hold, Detroit is likely to turn to Joey Wentz as a starter, McCosky adds. The 6’5″ southpaw was first called up last May. He got into seven games during his debut campaign, working to a 3.03 ERA with a slightly below-average 20% strikeout rate. Wentz had a solid 3.17 mark across 48 1/3 frames with Triple-A Toledo. He’s gotten hit hard this spring, allowing 13 runs in 14 2/3 innings in spite of a respectable 19:6 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
No pitcher had a tougher go in Detroit camp than reliever Will Vest, however. The righty managed four innings over five appearances, giving up a staggering 13 runs on as many hits with only three strikeouts. That knocked him out of consideration for a season-opening bullpen job, as Detroit optioned him to Toledo this afternoon.
Vest looked to have a bullpen spot more or less sewn up entering camp. The 27-year-old worked 63 innings over 59 outings last season. He allowed exactly four earned runs per nine but posted average or better strikeout (23.2%), walk (8.1%) and ground-ball (49.7%) marks. Vest could certainly factor into the bullpen as the season goes along but will first have to earn his way back up.
Alongside Vest, Detroit optioned catcher Donny Sands this afternoon. Hinch told reporters that non-roster backstops Andrew Knapp and Michael Papierski were being reassigned to minor league camp (link via Evan Petzold of the Detroit Free-Press). That leaves Eric Haase and Jake Rogers as the season-opening catching duo. Haase always looked assured of a roster spot. He was one of Detroit’s most productive hitters last season and is out of options. Rogers earns the backup job as a defensive specialist, setting him up for his first MLB action since undergoing Tommy John surgery in September 2021.