Detroit Tigers’ Andrew Chafin ready to ‘throw up zeros’ in return from injury


MINNEAPOLIS — Detroit Tigers left-handed reliever Andrew Chafin and his camouflage-colored Crocs were visible Tuesday afternoon.

“I’m excited to be here,” he said.

The Tigers reinstated Chafin — one of the team’s key free-agent additions this past offseason — from the 10-day injured list Tuesday. The 31-year-old has made a full recovery from the left groin strain he suffered in spring training.

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“I just want to go out there, throw up zeros and do my job, whatever is asked of me,” Chafin said. “If it’s the fifth inning, ninth inning, I don’t care. I’m just going to get outs.”

Tigers’ Andrew Chafin pitches against the Pittsburgh Pirates in the sixth inning Wednesday, March 23, 2022, in Lakeland, Fla.

Chafin is expected to make his debut for the franchise at some point against the Minnesota Twins during the three-game series from Tuesday through Thursday at Target Field.

“We’ll get him in there as soon as we can,” Tigers manager AJ Hinch said. “He’s going to pitch in important parts of the game. I don’t know if his first outing is going to be in leverage in the seventh, eighth or ninth, but you can’t control all that all the time. see.”

Chafin signed a two-year, $13 million contract with the Tigers in March. He was sidelined with the groin injury after two outings in spring training and missed the start of the season.

For a rehab assignment, Chafin pitched once for Low-A Lakeland and once for Triple-A Toledo. Chafin felt healthy upon joining the Mud Hens, sparking a speedy return to the big leagues.

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“I don’t want to say I was going through the motions,” Chafin said, “but I knew what I needed to do and didn’t quite have the adrenaline side of things going yet. Once I got going in Toledo, everything came together all at once.”

Without Chafin, Detroit’s pitched relievers surprisingly well. The efforts of Michael Fulmer, Jacob Barnes, Drew Hutchison and Gregory Soto, among others, have anchored the Tigers in the middle and late innings.

The Tigers’ bullpen boasts a 2.30 ERA, third-best in MLB behind the San Francisco Giants (1.65 ERA) and Los Angeles Dodgers (2.07 ERA).

Those results are new information to Chafin.

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“I haven’t really been watching games,” Chafin said. “I’m not one to watch baseball away from baseball. I was just working on everything I needed to do to get myself back up here to be able to help and hopefully we can make the numbers even better.”

Chafin could be the bullpen’s greatest weapon due to his ability to get outs against right-handed and left-handed hitters. Righties hit .196 against him in 162 plate appearances last season. Lefties hit .170 in 104 plate appearances.

He had a 1.83 ERA with 19 walks and 64 strikeouts over 68⅔ innings in 71 relief appearances in 2021 for the Chicago Cubs (43 games) and Oakland Athletics (28 games).

“Just getting my groin back where it needed to be,” Chafin said. “I mean, I know how to pitch. That’s something I’m not going to forget anytime soon. Just a matter of getting healthy and getting strong in all the right areas. I’m good to go.”

‘Encouraged’ with Casey Mize

Right-hander Casey Mize initiated his throwing program Monday in Lakeland, Florida, home of the Tigers’ spring training facility.

He played catch again Tuesday.

The 24-year-old had been shut down from pitching since his most recent start April 14 against the Kansas City Royals. The Tigers put him on the 10-day injured list April 15 with a right elbow sprain.

“We’re encouraged with Casey being able to go back-to-back days,” Hinch said. “That’s a good sign.”

Detroit Tigers starter Casey Mize pitches against the Chicago White Sox during the first inning Saturday, April 9, 2022, at Comerica Park in Detroit.

Detroit Tigers starter Casey Mize pitches against the Chicago White Sox during the first inning Saturday, April 9, 2022, at Comerica Park in Detroit.

Right-hander Matt Manning, though, has not started his throwing program yet. He exited his latest start, April 16 against the Royals, with right shoulder soreness. The Tigers diagnosed Manning with right shoulder inflammation.

Manning hit the 10-day injured list April 20, retroactive to April 17.

“Manning is still slowly ramping up,” Hinch said. “He’s got symptoms still with his shoulder tightness. Until that resolves himself, he’s not going to begin throwing.”

Outfielder Victor Reyes is stationed in Lakeland, too.

He is recovering from a left quad strain, which forced the Tigers to put him on the 10-day injured list Saturday.

“In a perfect world, anytime someone is dinged up on the injured list, we’d like to get them to Lakeland,” Hinch said. “It’s not a sign of readiness or any sort of fear. It’s just, the facility is equipped to handle those issues.”

Lineup changes

Hinch made significant changes to his lineup for Tuesday’s series opener, dropping third baseman Jeimer Candelario and second baseman Jonathan Schoop to the sixth and seventh spots, respectively.

Spencer Torkelson, the Tigers’ rookie first baseman, jumped to fifth in the batting order. He previously hit sixth (five starts), seventh (five starts) and eighth (four starts).

“He’s been putting up pretty good at-bats,” Hinch said of Torkelson. “When you start trying to ease off a couple different guys, other guys are going to get opportunities to move up. If he conducts his at-bats the way he has the far, it doesn’t matter where he hits, he’s in a run-production situation.”

Tigers'  Spencer Torkelson is greeted at the dugout after scoring during the third inning against the Red Sox, Tuesday, April 12, 2022, in Detroit.

Tigers’ Spencer Torkelson is greeted at the dugout after scoring during the third inning against the Red Sox, Tuesday, April 12, 2022, in Detroit.

Torkelson seen an average of 4.24 pitches per plate appearance, above the 3.91 MLB average. He is hitting .217 with three home runs, eight RBIs, eight walks and 17 strikeouts in 15 games.

His 136 wRC+ ranks second to Austin Meadows (170) among the Tigers’ regulars. As for the two players moving down in the lineup, Schoop has a 34 wRC+ and Candelario has a 31 wRC+ (league average is 100).

Schoop is hitting .155 with two doubles, one home run, three walks and 10 strikeouts; Candelario has a .158 batting average with three doubles, five walks and 15 strikeouts.

Both players have appeared in 15 games.

“It’s just a different look to the lineup,” Hinch said. “It doesn’t change a ton. … Maybe ease a little bit of pressure off them, but hitting is not easier just because you change the spot in the batting order. It comes down to pitch selection, and both those guys will be just fine.”

Miggy wins award

Miguel Cabrera accomplished 3,000 hits in Game 1 of Saturday’s doubleheader against the Colorado Rockies. Two days later, the 39-year-old was named American League Co-Player of the Week.

Cabrera, a 20-year MLB veteran, has earned the weekly honor 16 times in his career and for the first time since October 2016. His AL Co-Player of the Week: Seattle Mariners first baseman Ty France.

During the past week, Cabrera went 7-for-18 (.389) with two RBIs, one walk, one intentional walk and six strikeouts in five games. He is the 33rd player in MLB history to reach 3,000 hits.

Cabrera, at 3,002 career hits, has a .319 batting average across 14 games.

Something to watch

The condensed spring training allowed teams to begin the season with 28 players on the active roster. The active roster, beginning May 2, will decrease to 26 players, with teams allowed to have a maximum of 13 pitchers.

There has been a small change.

MLB and the MLB Players Association agreed Tuesday — in an effort to monitor player health — to a 14-pitcher maximum on 26-man rosters from May 2 through May 29.

The 13-pitcher limit will begin May 30.

Contact Evan Petzold at epetzold@freepress.com or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold. Read more on the Detroit Tigers and sign up for our Tigers newsletter.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Tigers’ Andrew Chafin ready to ‘throw up zeros’ in return





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