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Detroit Tigers’ Bryan Garcia trying to rebound after unexpected break

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Clearwater, Florida – Desperate times call for desperate action, especially during a pandemic.

Left tiger Matthew Boyd spoke on Saturday about the efforts he made to keep his arm in shape when he didn’t have access to a facility or a catcher.

“You just have to build a Home Depot strike zone,” he said. “You get a cheap yellow chain, clip it, you know, get some carabiners (hooks), paint some white lines and hang up a lacrosse net and you’re good. You can do it for less than ten dollars. “

Fortunately, helpers Bryan Garcia and Jason Foley didn’t have to go that far. Both spent a full seven days off-team per COVID-19 (contact tracing) protocols, but also quarantined Shortstop Zack Short – maybe not quite as good as a real catcher, but better than a Home Depot strike zone.

“It’s not ideal,” said Garcia, who has had a little trouble in both of his appearances since his return. “It happens. Just try to pick up where you left off. In terms of routine, I think I missed an appearance or two that you normally do and get a feel for it.

“But everything is fine. I will catch up. “

Garcia, struggling to keep the closer role he won last season, gave up a few home races in his first game against the Yankees on March 16. Mike Tauchman discharged himself on a 96 mile sinker and Clint Frazier blew up a hanging slider. Garcia battled his command in a goalless 24-pitch inning on Saturday.

“That problem is the time gap,” said manager AJ Hinch. “You give each player a week and it will be a little difficult to pick up where you left off. We’ll have to see him as someone early in the camp and try to fast-forward a few trips for him. “

More: AJ Hinch said Tigers’ Spencer Turnbull likely won’t be back before camp ends

To this end, Garcia will serve Tuesday and Wednesday on consecutive days. The second mission takes place in a simulated game against Tigers Hitter on the fields in Tiger Town.

The slider is the pitch that hasn’t come back yet. So on Saturday he threw 18 sinkers and only five slides.

“It was almost like I was a one-trick pony,” he said. “I only had the fastball. I couldn’t throw my off-speed for a strike and it’s hard to get these guys out when a pitch works. I feel good physically. I just need the reps. It gets the feeling that it takes a little longer.

“It comes there. Slowly but surely.”

As frustrating as it is to be shut down if you haven’t broken the protocol, Garcia said he understood why the protocols are necessary.

“It’s frustrating because you didn’t do anything wrong,” he said. “But if someone got the virus, you don’t want to spread it to the entire team. You have to make this sacrifice. The owners and the players agreed to this. Those were the protocols we’ll go with.

“We agreed, so I can’t complain about that.”

Swiss Army Alexander

Leftist Tyler Alexander has thrown six truly goalless innings without really breaking a sweat. In five spring excursions he threw 114 pitches, 83 of which were for strikes. That is a strike rate of 73%.

Because of his efficiency, Hinch said he couldn’t stretch Alexander as far as he wants.

“He’s a Swiss Army Knife-type pitcher, which is why you love him in this hybrid role (starter-reliever),” said Hinch. “It’s always a question of whether we should stretch it further and give it a chance to run through a line-up a few times.

“But he is extremely valuable as a utility pitcher. It will give us a lot of flexibility in setting up in the zone. “

Alexander doesn’t care what label you put on him – he just wants his name to be mentioned. Often.

“There’s a lot of value in a pitcher that can eat innings,” said Alexander. “Especially in a season where we are faced with inning restrictions and what happened last year (shortened season). I don’t care what role I am in, I just want to eat innings.

“It could be the sixth starter role, could be as a swing man. At the end of the day, I just want to be unlucky. “

Defensive heat

Hinch moved his infielder into third place with a runner and no one against the Pirates on Saturday – in the second inning.

To get used to something.

“We’ll do that a lot,” said Hinch. “I don’t care what time it is. The number of outs and the pitcher-hitter matchup will matter a little. But I love racket pressure. I like cutting off runs. “

Conventional baseball wisdom has long been that you don’t draw the infield early in games for fear of making a big inning.

“It doesn’t feel good when a ball comes through or a bloop falls in,” said Hinch. “There are negative things that can happen. But the net positive of holding a run off the board is important. “

The Tigers shortened this runner for the recording. Kevin Newman was thrown on a grounder by Jonathan Schoop, the third baseman.

“I preach it, we practice it,” said Hinch. “We’ll probably play the infield with most baseball players.”

Around the horn

Hinch has set the pitching rotation for this week: Julio Tehran starts on Monday in Dunedin (Blue Jays), Tarik Skubal on Tuesday against the Yankees, Jose Urena on Wednesday against the Phillies and Casey Mize on Friday in Bradenton (Pirates).

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Twitter: @cmccosky

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Dusty Kennedy