It's not a week of baseball without another Detroit Tiger being injured. This week, the injury bug bites rookie left-handed starting pitcher Drew Smyly.
Smyly was placed on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to July 7th, with what is being called a right intercostal strain. Smyly showed signs of being injured in the 5th inning of his last start, a 4-2 victory over the Kansas City Royals. Despite the injury, it was Smyly's best performance in 2 months, striking out a career high 10 in 6 innings. In 15 starts, Smyly is 4-3 with a 4.42 ERA.
The Tigers filled Smyly's open roster spot by recalling right handed relief pitcher Luis Marte from Toledo. In his previous stint with the Tigers, Marte posted a 3.72 ERA in 17 innings over 9 appearances. Marte was optioned out on July 2nd when the Tigers called up relievers Jose Ortega and Darin Downs.
As to whom takes over for Smyly in the starting rotation, the Tigers also announced top pitching prospect Jacob Turner would take the mound on Tuesday against the Los Angeles Angels. This will be Turner's 2nd call up of 2012. After Smyly was placed on the DL with a blister issue, Turner took 1 turn in the rotation. On June 21st, Turner went 5 innings against the St. Louis Cardinals, allowing 1 run on 4 hits and 5 walks. Turner's last start with the Mud Hens was excellent, a complete game 3 hit shutout on July 7th.
Obviously, there will be another personnel move made after Monday's night's game in order to make room for Turner on the 25 man roster.
So what is an intercostal strain?
The thoracic spine consists of twelve vertebrae which each connect to a pair or ribs. The upper seven ribs are connected directly to the chest bone/sternum and are termed true ribs whereas the lower five ribs do not attach directly to the sternum and are defined false ribs.
The intercostal muscles consists of several groups of muscles ((internal and external intercostals and subcostal and transverse thoracic muscles) which are located between the ribs and function to move and stabilize the chest wall.
These muscles can become strained often as a result of rapid twisting of the torso and are common in sports.
As to why Tigers' pitchers are being sidelined with what feels like an epidemic of side strains is anyone's guess.