Yesterday, Doug Fister retired the first batter of the fifth inning but was then pulled from the game with what initial speculation was a blister on a finger of his pitching hand.
Kevin Rand, the Tigers head trainer, has since confirmed that the injury was not the aforementioned blister.
Rand confirmed that the injury was not a blister. Rand and Leyland both said Fister has dealt with soreness in the finger before.
“But I learned a long time ago that there’s no such thing as a minor injury,” Leyland said. “We don’t think [it's serious], but I pay serious attention to the smallest of things.” Detroit has just under two weeks before opening its season April 5 against the Red Sox at Comerica Park, which should be plenty of time to get Fister back on the mound if it’s nothing more than soreness.
The fact of the matter is, the Tigers have nearly two weeks until they open the season against the Boston Red Sox. Fister should have no problem coming back with no issues, but you can still add him to the injured list with Miguel Cabrera and Jacob Turner, both of who are looking like they could come back sooner than many feared, though nothing has been confirmed. Cabrera is experiencing much less swelling than anticipated and will be reevaluated during the middle of the week. Turner threw an issue free bullpen session on Friday morning, and will throw another one on Sunday. As I mentioned on twitter, while Leyland himself said that it’s going to be hard for Turner to come back and win the job before the spring ends, I think he may be a bit of a dark horse to snatch the fifth starter spot from one of the other three internal candidates.
And of course, speaking of the fifth starter competition, here are the stats updated through 20 spring games (14-3-3):
Andy Oliver: 12.2IP, 4H, 3ER, 8BB, 7SO | 2.13ERA
Duane Below: 8.2IP, 13H, 5ER, 5BB, 6SO | 5.87ERA
Drew Smyly: 8IP, 4H, 1ER, 3BB, 7SO | 1.13ERA
Jacob Turner: 4IP, 6H, 5ER, 6BB, 2SO | 11.25ERA dark horse candidate!
Casey Crosby: 5.2IP, 6H, 3ER, 6BB, 4SO | 4.76ERA
Adam Wilk: 12IP, 19H, 10ER, 2BB, 5SO | 7.50ERA
And of course, speaking of position battles, the Brandon Inge starting second baseman job interview, you know, the one where he is supposed to hit in order to win, isn’t going to well. He’s batting .200 with 3 extra base hits in 35 at bats. I’m not going to even bother giving stats of Ryan Raburn, Don Kelly, and Ramon Santiago because I don’t need to justify those numbers.
The final position battles for the final spots in the bullpen, are certainly more competitive than the other two. Luis Marte, Brayan Villarreal, Collin Balester, Chris Bootcheck, and Jose Ortega are all throwing really, really well, Villarreal being the most impressive. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this seven man bullpen head North:
Finally, non-roster invite Quintin Berry sealed the comeback win for the Tigers yesterday with a grand slam in the ninth inning against Daniel McCutchen and the Pirates. He’s 27 and a career minor leaguer with an OPS south of .700, but he’s got some speed and some chops, which is exactly the kind of player Leyland likes. He’s not going to make the opening day roster unless, like, five guys get injured but he’s been a nice story, and is one of only a handful of NRI left in big league camp, in fact, he’s lasted longer than Eric Patterson, who the Tigers signed this offseason and is basically the same player.