DETROIT — The Tigers had Jordan Zimmermann back for all of 1 2/3 innings before they lost him again to injury. After the game it was announced that the righty would be going back on the disabled list for an injury closer to his initial neck injury than the lat tightness.
With Zimmermann going to the DL, Kyle Ryan has been recalled by the Tigers to replace his roster spot. Daniel Norris will start in Zimmermann’s stead, but because Bruce Rondon is going on paternity leave for three days starting on Sunday, the roster move will reflect that Norris replaces Rondon.
When Rondon returns, another roster move will need to be made that keeps Norris in Detroit and makes room for Rondon. It’s an ugly mess, but that’s how the moves are ordered. Thad Weber has been moved from Double-A Erie to Triple-A Toledo with Norris back in Detroit.
Also included in the bundle of injury moves is Nick Castellanos, who will be out for at least four weeks with a non-displaced fracture in his left fifth metacarpal. Casey McGehee was pulled from his game in Toledo earlier in the evening and has been called up to replace Castellanos. Since McGehee is on the 40-man roster no additional moves are needed.
“(Castellanos is gone) probably a minimum of four weeks,” Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said after the game. “Certainly not good news for us. The important thing is for him to get healthy. We’re looking really some point in early September that we’d get him back.”
The Tigers will use a mix of McGehee, Andrew Romine, and Mike Aviles for the next four weeks.
What stands out with Zimmermann is which injury he’s going down with. He’d been pulled from his start on Thursday for right lat tightness that he’d been experiencing since before the game. However, on Friday he had felt improvement and it appeared for the time being the DL had been averted.
But on Saturday in the early afternoon, he threw from flat ground and it didn’t go so well. The problem wasn’t with his lat tightness, though. Ausmus wasn’t clear on where exactly the injury is, he acknowledged that it’s closer to his old right neck strain than the lat tightness. The DL is related to how Saturday’s throwing session went.
“A combination of him playing catch, and not feeling like we hoped he would, and some precaution, as well,” Ausmus said. “Just figuring it’s probably best we get him back at full strength, rather than try to fight through with him at 80 percent for a couple starts.
“Not so much in the lat. It was in the general area where it was previously, we just kind of put the kibosh on it for now. He just doesn’t feel right is the best way to put it. There’s no particular pain, or anything when he throws. He just doesn’t feel right. So, we’re going to try to fix that.”
If a player feels like they’re healthy enough to rejoin the team after completing their designated DL stint (whether it be 15 or 60 days), the team cannot force a player to remain on the DL. That’s the player’s choice whether they believe they’re healthy enough or can play/pitch through their respective injury well enough for the time being.
Zimmermann had recently acknowledged his minor league starts hadn’t gone well. However, he believed he was healthy enough or recovered enough to pitch through the neck strain and thus was reactivated. But because of the continued neck issue, as well as the lat tightness, the Tigers decided to place him back on the DL for a second stint, essentially restarting the clock on his recovery.
It’s a way of forcing the player to take more time to recover when the team doesn’t believe a player is healthy and is risking his own health. Now, if Zimmermann doesn’t agree with this he can file a grievance with the MLB Players’ Association, but it’s highly unlikely that he would given the health issues and his own admission of poor performance related to the injury.
On another note, Cameron Maybin has been out of the lineup since August 4 with a left thumb sprain and was expected to miss a few games. There was still swelling on Friday, and he was not in the lineup on Saturday. He may return to the lineup at any time since he’s day-to-day, but it’s not yet known when exactly he’ll return.
“You just keep moving forward,” Ausmus said. “Looking through the windshield, and not the rear-view mirror. You’d rather have Nick (Castellanos) on the field. He’s done a tremendous job for us. Unfortunately, injury’s part of any sport.
“We do have a number of guys that can play third base. Casey McGehee can play third base, Mike Aviles, Andrew Romine can play third base. So, we do have bodies that can fill the void, and if they’re hot with the bat, we won’t miss Nick too much.”