On Wednesday morning, the Detroit Tigers announced that outfielder Riley Greene has been moved to the 10-day injured list with a stress fracture of his left fibula. He was removed in the third inning of Tuesday’s game against the Texas Rangers with what was initially described as lower leg discomfort. There is no timetable for his return.
Things could always be worse, but this diagnosis after an MRI revealed the fracture was just about the worst case scenario based on the sequence of events. Greene reported some discomfort early in the matchup with Texas on Tuesday but thought he could play through it. Manager A.J. Hinch observed Greene’s reaction to making a catch in the third inning and pulled him from the game.
Greene and the Tigers will seek a second opinion, but pretty clearly the timetable is months rather than weeks, if not the season, should the second opinion concur with the stress fracture diagnosis. The injury was a little different and involved the tibia rather than the fibula, but you may recall Jose Iglesias missing the 2014 season with stress fractures that were initially diagnosed as shin splints. Fractures are quite tricky. For now, there’s nothing to do but wait for news once Greene gets a second opinion and has had some time to heal, but it’s unlikely that there will be significant updates anytime soon.
Riley Greene is going on the 10-day IL with a stress fracture in his left fibula— Cody Stavenhagen (@CodyStavenhagen) May 31, 2023
MRI revealed the fracture last night. Tigers will have him seek a second opinion
We can curse the Tigers’ fortunes, and we will, but while their hopes of an outside run at the A.L. Central just took a haymaker to the jaw, the club still has to figure out how to play and win to the best of their ability with the players they have on hand.
With Eduardo Rodriguez out with a pulley rupture of his index finger, an injury that will likely keep him sidelined until late June at the earliest and potentially until August, the club announced that right-handed pitching prospect Reese Olson will make his major league debut on Friday in Chicago against the White Sox. Olson was our 13th ranked prospect in the preseason and has gone on a pretty good run in his last few starts for the Triple-A Toledo Mud Hens.
Greene’s injury now turns minds toward how the Tigers will replace him. Veteran outfielder Jake Marisnick was acquired for cash from the White Sox on Tuesday to spell Matt Vierling while he is out with a lower back issue. Marisnick can handle center field, as can Akil Baddoo, but neither is really an optimal defensive solution out there. Right-hander Trey Wingenter was moved to the 60-day injured list on Wednesday to open a 40-man spot for Marisnick.
However, with a much longer timeline for Greene, we’ll see if the Tigers decide to promote center fielder Parker Meadows. The bat isn’t quite ready for this, but he is the most advanced center field prospect they have. Minor leaguers Grant Witherspoon or Trei Cruz could be options for the outfield as the season progresses, but neither projects to have much positive impact.
Offensively, the Tigers are going to be really hard pressed to make up for the loss of Greene’s bat. They can call up Justyn-Henry Malloy and potentially Colt Keith in the summer months and continue to piece an offense together with heavy platooning and substitutions, but those players will just be getting their feet wet and there’s really little point to messing with their development for the extremely slim chance that the Tigers can hang on and contend. We’ll see them both fairly soon, most likely, but it’s unlikely they’ll be rushed to the majors because of Greene’s injury. If the Tigers can somehow hold it together in June without a huge losing streak, that might give some impetus to the idea of going all hands on deck in July.
Either way, this is a huge blow. Of all the Tigers top picks over the last six years, Greene was the one who was living up to the billing. He holds a 127 wRC+ on the year, and was really just getting warmed up. In May, Greene was the fifth most valuable position player in major league baseball and gaining a lot of national attention. There’s no good timing for something like this, but it really does feel particularly cruel to happen right now.
Hopefully Riley Greene comes back from this good as new, but it’s not going to be any time soon. That’s tough to take, especially for Greene, but also for a fanbase starting to believe that the decade long organizational nightmare was finally at an end.
Now if you’ll excuse us, we’ll be outside staring into the sun.
(1/2) The Tigers have announced the following roster moves:— Tigers PR (@DetroitTigersPR) May 31, 2023
*Placed OF Riley Greene on the 10-day injured list (left fibula stress fracture)
*Selected OF Jake Marisnick from Triple A Toledo. Marisnick will wear #15.
(2/2) The Tigers have announced the following roster moves:— Tigers PR (@DetroitTigersPR) May 31, 2023
*To make room for Marisnick on the 40-man roster, transferred RHP Trey Wingenter to the 60-day injured list