The Tigers’ outfield has been lambasted by injuries so far in 2022, with each of austin meadows, Robbie Grossman, victor reyes and top prospect Riley Greene landing on the injured list. There’s some welcome news on the health front for Detroit fans, however, as manager AJ Hinch revealed today that Meadows has been cleared to begin a minor league rehab assignment (Twitter link via Cody Stavenhagen of The Athletic). Meanwhile, Greene made his Triple-A debut last night after appearing in a couple of Low-A games as he continues to build toward a possible MLB debut.
Meadows has been out since May 16 due to vertigo-like symptoms that sidelined him for several games in the middle of the month. He attempted to return on May 15, only to exit the game early with continued symptoms, leading to his current IL stint.
Prior to landing on the injured list, Meadows had been productive from an on-base standpoint but had yet to show off his above-average power. The former Rays slugger was batting .267/.362/.347 through 116 plate appearances to begin the year. Meadows’ 10.3% walk rate to date would be the second-best mark of his career over a full season, and his 12.1% strikeout rate was far and away the lowest clip of his career. However, he’s yet to hit his first Tigers homer and was sitting on a tiny .079 ISO (slugging percentage minus batting average) — a far cry from the .229 clip he carried into the season. It may not be elite production, but it’s considerably healthier than what the Tigers have received from Derek Hill (.250/.288/.324), daz cameron (.156/.250/.156) and Willi Castro (.287/.333/.356) of late with so many outfield alternatives banged up.
As for Greene, it’s not clear just how long he’ll need before he’s deemed ready for his first big league look, but the 2019 No. 5 overall pick and consensus top-10 overall MLB prospect was seen as a favorite to break camp with the Tigers this spring. That changed when a fractured foot landed him in a walking boot — an injury that came with an expected recovery period of six to eight weeks. Greene indeed returned to game action in about eight weeks’ time, though he’ll now spend some time rehabbing in the minors to shake off some rust. The 21-year-old hit .301/.387/.534 between Double-A and Triple-A last season, however, and it could be a relatively short stay in Toledo if he can quickly round into that form.
Just as the organization is hopeful that Greene will eventually be a building block in the outfield, they’re hopeful that ailing righty Casey Mize will be a fixture in the rotation. Mize has been out since mid-April due to a sprained medial ligament in his elbow (not the same ligament that typically required Tommy John surgery), but he’s set to ramp up the intensity in his throwing program in the coming days, tweet MLB.com’s Jason Beck. The 2018 No. 1 overall pick played catch yesterday and reported no issues, and he’ll move to a long-toss program sometime next week.n
Mize pitched in just two games this season, totaling 10 innings before landing on the shelf. The hope was that after a solid run in 2021 — 150 1/3 innings, 3.71 ERA, 19.3% strikeout rate, 6.7% walk rate — he could join fellow top prospects Tarik Skubal, Matt Manning and offseason signed Eduardo Rodríguez to fill out the bulk of the Tigers’ rotation. Of that group, however, only Skubal has avoided the injured list so far in 2022. Manning (shoulder) and Rodriguez (ribcage) are both on the injured list, as are lefty Tyler Alexander (elbow strain) and righty Michael Pineda (fractured finger). Mize all but ditched his sinker in favor of more four-seamers prior to his injury but was shelved too early to glean much meaningful data from that experiment in pitch selection.
The Tigers’ injury bug has even spread to the team’s coaching staff, it seems, as MLive.com’s Evan Woodbery writes that first base coach Gary Jones won’t be on the field for at least four to six weeks. A line drive hit by Jeimer Candelario struck Jones on the leg this week and resulted in a fractured ankle. The injury will relegate Jones to some off-the-field work (eg outfield positioning, in-game strategizing with Hinch). assistant hitting coach Mike Hessman will step into the coach’s box and assume that portion off Jones’ duties for the time being.