Detroit Tigers right-hander Matt Manning enjoyed watching Thursday, as future Hall of Famer Miguel Cabrera slapped a walk-off single for a 4-3 win over the Cleveland Guardians at Comerica Park.
But Manning will soon travel to Lakeland, Florida, home of the Tigers’ spring training facility, for what appears to be another round of rehabilitation. He wishes he could contribute to the team, but that won’t happen for a while because of an injury he kept secret.
The 2016 No. 9 overall draft pick has biceps tendinitis and is shut down for the foreseeable future.
“The hardest thing, mentally, is not being here to support these guys through the up and the downs,” Manning said Thursday night. “It kills me. For me, I want to fight through anything I can. If my arm is attached, I want to throw. But I got to look out for the long term and be productive here. If I can’t do that, then there’s no point.”
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Manning, 24, left his mid-April start against the Kansas City Royals in the second inning at Kauffman Stadium. Four days later, on April 20, Manning landed on the injured list due to right shoulder inflammation.
“I think it’s a lot better than when I first got it in Kansas City,” Manning said. “That next part is getting over the hump, getting it behind me so I don’t get back and get (injured) in July or late in the season.”
He joined righty Casey Mize (right elbow sprain, April 15), then three more starting pitchers followed suit: left-hander Tyler Alexander (left elbow sprain, May 2), righty Michael Pineda (right middle finger fracture, May 15) and lefty Eduardo Rodriguez (left ribcage sprain, May 22).
As the injuries mounted, so did the pressure Manning felt to return to the Tigers as quickly as possible.
“That’s what it was,” Manning said. “I looked at it like an open spot that I was the closest one and I needed to fill it. When you see stuff like that happen, I just want to help in any way I can.”
So, Manning pushed through the pain.
“Obviously, we can only operate with the information that we have in trying to put him in a position to be successful,” manager A.J. Hinch said Thursday. “Luckily for us, he didn’t continue to try to do anything more.”
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Manning made four rehab start for Triple-A Toledo, and after his second outing, he felt a setback with his shoulder. To compensate, he manipulated his mechanics to avoid the discomfort.
It wasn’t until Thursday at Comerica Park that Manning revealed the injury to his coaches and trainers.
“In my last few (starts), I felt a setback with the shoulder a little bit in one of the areas,” Manning said. “I tried to fight through it the best I could with the situation. But the reality is, it probably wasn’t right and best for me and the team to come back if I’m not 100%. I’m going to get a second opinion and go from there.”
Before the initial injury, Manning had a 2.25 ERA with zero walks and four strikeouts across eight innings in two starts. He made his MLB debut in June 2021, posting a 5.80 ERA with 33 walks and 57 strikeouts in 18 starts as a rookie.
Manning, at some point, will get a second opinion on his right arm.
“I started feeling it going into my third one,” he said. “I was able to get through with all the maintenance work that our staff has helped us with. It’s just, the body sometimes doesn’t respond right. I’ll get it looked at.”
Rony Garcia gets another start
Right-hander Rony García, as a product of Manning’s latest injury, will make his second consecutive start Monday and could stick in the starting rotation until one of the injured starters returns.
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The five-man rotation also features Tarik Skubal, Beau Brieske, Alex Faedo and Elvin Rodriguez. The latest addition is García, who tossed four innings of two-run ball Wednesday against the Minnesota Twins.
“It’s very exciting, going back to what I used to be as a starter,” García said Friday, with Tigers bilingual media coordinator Carlos Guillen interpreting. “I cannot say what I expect for my next outing, because you cannot handle what’s coming in the future, but I will do my best. I will give 100% of myself to win the game.”
Once again, García will face the Twins. This time, though, the matchup takes place at Comerica Park. A reliever for his first eight games, the 24-year-old stretched out to 78 pitches in his first start.
García, a Rule 5 draft pick in December 2019, has a 3.00 ERA with five walks and 22 strikeouts across 18 innings in nine appearances this season. Opponents are hitting .150 (3-for-20) with 10 strikeouts against his curveball.
“I always focus on doing my job,” García said. “Wherever they put me, I’m in and I’m up for it. But at the end of the day, it’s going to be the coaching staff, manager and front office people that will make the decision where they want me to be, either as a starter or reliever.”
Michael Pineda injury update
Right-hander Michael Pineda, sidelined with a right middle finger fracture, is playing catch in Lakeland, home of the Tigers’ spring training facility.
The 33-year-old went to the injured list May 15, after making five starts for the Tigers. He had a 3.22 ERA with four walks and 12 strikeouts across 22⅓ innings.
“He’s got his fingers taped together,” Hinch said Friday. “He’s doing a range of motion playing catch at a very short distance, which is key. He’ll get an exam in another couple weeks and see if he can take the tape off and begin to throw his pitches and get off the mound. But his shoulder is moving, which is key.”
The Tigers signed Pineda to a one-year, $5.5 million contract in March.
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