Matthew Boyd emerged from the Detroit Tigers’ clubhouse at Comerica Park with a smile. He walked with fellow starting pitchers Casey Mize, Tarik Skubal and Matt Manning to the outfield near the bullpen, where he went through his throwing routine.
Boyd, 30, isn’t back from the injured list — where he has been since June 15 with left arm discomfort — but he completed his first rehab start Friday for Triple-A Toledo. Manager AJ Hinch said his veteran left-hander needs at least three rehab starts before returning to the big leagues.
“I had a good outing yesterday in terms of how I felt,” Boyd said Saturday, adding he and his wife, Ashley, are expecting twins in October. “We just went out there and attacked one pitch at a time. The mind was on attacking, and that was huge. It was a good day.”
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For the Mud Hens, Boyd posted two scoreless innings.
He retired the first three Columbus Clippers (Cleveland’s Triple-A affiliate) in order, ran into trouble with back-to-back singles in the second but responded with a strikeout and an inning-ending double play. He fired 14 of 20 pitches for strikes.
“He was 90-94 (mph),” Hinch said Saturday. “I only bring up velocity because it tells me he had no fear. He was letting the ball go.”
The plan is for Boyd to pitch three innings in his next start, and then he will try to get to four or five innings. The Tigers will then consider activating him from the injured list and inserting him into the rotation.
Accomplishing these benchmarks should take the “next couple of weeks,” Hinch said. Before exiting his June 14 start in Kansas City, Boyd posted a 3.44 ERA, 19 walks and 56 strikeouts over 70⅔ innings in 13 outings.
“Every game counts this time of year,” Boyd said. “I’m doing everything I can to get back in the right process. I’m just following the plan that (athletic trainer) Doug Teter and the team has laid out for me. I’m in great hands.”
Boyd doesn’t have a history with arm problems, and he wasn’t worried about long-term damage.
“It wasn’t like a one-pitch sort of thing,” Boyd said. “Maybe that pushed it over the edge in that start, swinging the bat (June 1 at Milwaukee). It’s just being patient to wait for everything to feel right.”
Willi Castro gets new position
After Friday’s loss, infielder Willi Castro checked the lineup for Saturday’s meeting with Cleveland at Comerica Park. He was penned in for left field, despite never playing the outfield in his professional career.
He last played beyond the infield when he was 12 years old. For the past three days, Castro has practiced in the outfield under the inspection of bench coach George Lombard, who played as an outfielder during his career.
“I’m here to play any position they put me at,” Castro said Saturday. “I’m here to play anywhere.”
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Entering 2021, Castro had a chance to become the everyday shortstop of the future. He quickly moved to second base, but his defense hasn’t improved. (Castro is the worst second baseman in baseball with minus-12 defensive runs saved.) He could evolve into a utility player by next season, if he develops in the outfield and betters his offense.
Castro, 24, is hitting .215 with five triples, seven home runs, 34 RBIs, 19 walks and 88 strikeouts over 92 games. Last year, he posted a .349 batting average, six home runs and 24 RBIs in 36 games, finishing tied for fourth place in American League Rookie of the Year voting.
“He’s a player we believe in,” Hinch said. “The more positions we can put him at, the better. It does not close the book at second base and even shortstop. It may spark a huge skill set that can help our team, help him and make it an even more interesting team. If not, no harm is done and we’ll get him back to second base primarily. I’m just not afraid of trying it, and I’m not afraid to try in games.”
Drew Hutchison arrives
Toledo right-hander Drew Hutchison also went through his throwing routine at Comerica Park, even though the 30-year-old hasn’t been officially added to the 40-man roster or the active roster. His status as a minor-league pitcher will soon change.
The Tigers need to make a transaction before Sunday’s game, as Hutchison is scheduled to start against Cleveland in the series finale. It will mark his first MLB appearance since Aug. 31, 2018, for the Texas Rangers. It’s unclear which player the Tigers will demote to make room on the roster.
“I’m just going to be myself, take it as it comes, do what I do and try to help this team win,” Hutchison said Saturday. “It’s been a while. I’m excited.”
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Hutchison owns a 3.63 ERA, 40 walks and 86 strikeouts across 84⅓ innings over 17 starts for the Mud Hens. He signed a minor-league deal with the Tigers on Feb. 28 during spring training, with five MLB seasons on his resume for the Toronto Blue Jays (2012, 2014-16), Pittsburgh Pirates (2016), Philadelphia Phillies (2018) and Rangers (2018).
He was Toronto’s Opening Day starter in 2015.
“It’s been an interesting ride so far, but I’ve had a good season this year,” Hutchison said. “I’m excited to get going tomorrow.”
Evan Petzold is a sports reporter at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold. Read more on the Detroit Tigers and sign up for our Tigers newsletter.