Spencer Turnbull was off to a strong start to the 2021 season, working 50 innings of 2.88 ERA ball with a massive 57.2% ground-ball rate over his first nine starts — one of which was a no-hitter against the Mariners. After those productive first two months, the right-hander landed on the injured list with what was originally termed a forearm strain. Early reports indicated that Turnbull may be able to avoid a long-term absence, but it emerged in mid-July that he’d torn his UCL and required Tommy John surgery. That procedure obviously ended his season and its timing cast his 2022 campaign in similar doubt. TJS procedures often require around 14 months of rehab time, raising a question of whether the University of Alabama product will be available at all this year.
Speaking with Chris McCosky of the Detroit News this afternoon, Turnbull expressed optimism about his chances of making it back to the majors late in the season. He tells McCosky he’s been throwing on flat ground for the past few weeks and generally feels his arm is progressing well. Like other players rehabbing from injury, he’s been unable to communicate with team personnel during the lockout. Turnbull described the situation as “weird” and “not ideal” but maintained he’s confident in the non-Tigers medical staff currently leading his recovery. The 29-year-old is controllable through 2024 via arbitration and projected by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz for a modest $1.8MM salary this season.
More out of Detroit:
- The delay to Opening Day puts the Tigers in an odd position with top prospects Spencer Torkelson and Riley Greene, writes Cody Stavenhagen of The Athletic. Both were expected to be in the mix for Opening Day roster spots, but the season’s delay will now likely push Major League Spring Training back to the point where it overlaps with the Triple-A season. The Tigers could be faced with pulling the pair from a more competitive setting in Triple-A to fly them back down to Florida for exhibition play — and then perhaps disrupting their season by sending them back to Toledo (where the team’s Triple-A affiliate plays) if either player is ultimately reassigned. It’s not a situation that’s unique to the Tigers, and one could even argue that Detroit is in an advantageous position, given that their two best prospects — both considered Top 10 throughout all of MLB — are both off the 40-man roster. The fact that neither is on the 40-man yet means that both are at least able to work out with team staff at their spring facility in Lakeland. Still, the organization faced a potentially difficult decision in the first place, and the delay to Opening Day adds another layer. Stavenhagen also has quotes from both players on the matter and some general observations from minicamp.
- The Tigers kicked off their offseason by acquiring backstop Tucker Barnhart from the Reds. The seven-year veteran has taken on an active role in the MLB Players Association for the bulk of his career, and he’s been involved in the union’s efforts during this stage of collective bargaining talks. Barnhart spoke with Evan Petzold of the Detroit Free-Press in the wake of the league’s announcement Tuesday that it was canceling the first two series of the regular season. The two-time Gold Glove winner, who wasn’t attending this week’s negotiations in-person, admitted he woke up Tuesday morning believing the parties would finalize a new CBA in time to avoid that outcome based on the optimistic reports that had trickled out the night before. However, Barnhart says he learned Tuesday morning that while the previous night’s discussions had made some progress, the gaps hadn’t been closed as much as had seemed — a common refrain echoed by many on the players’ side. He and Petzold discuss the various issues that remain to be sorted out.