CLEVELAND — The Detroit Tigers planned to send Eduardo Rodriguez, who signed a five-year, $77 million contract in November, to the injured list after he exited Wednesday's start with one out in the first inning.
On Sunday, the Tigers officially sidelined their prized left-hander.
Rodriguez, 29, landed on the 15-day injured list Sunday, retroactive to Thursday, with a left ribcage sprain. The severity of his injury is unclear, as is the Tigers' plan for his rehabilitation.
"We don't know a ton more other than we've still got to rule out a couple of things to make sure there's not a stress reaction in his ribcage," manager A.J. Hinch said. "Something is still bothering him when he throws. We're not going to be able to test him, and we're certainly not going to put him out there, until he gets a battery of tests."
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The short-term filler for Rodriguez's spot in the starting rotation is right-hander Elvin Rodriguez, whom the Tigers called up in a corresponding move. He will start Monday against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field.
Eduardo Rodriguez is set to undergo further testing in Minneapolis.
"After that, we're going to have to methodically ramp him back up to test it," Hinch said. "That's going to take enough time to put him on the injured list. We're going to be cautious with him."
The Tigers finish their series against the Cleveland Guardians on Sunday, then travel to face the Twins for three games from Monday-Wednesday. Elvin Rodriguez starts Monday, followed by right-hander Beau Brieske on Tuesday.
"There's a lot of emotions about this," Elvin Rodriguez said.
Wednesday will be a bullpen game.
Eduardo Rodriguez takes a 4.38 ERA to the injured list, along with 17 walks and 34 strikeouts over 39 innings in eight starts. Elvin Rodriguez, 24, brings a 3.57 ERA from his six games (five starts) for Triple-A Toledo. He made his MLB debut in April, pitching in one game out of the bullpen.
Detroit has six starting pitchers on the injured list: Eduardo Rodriguez, Casey Mize (right elbow sprain), Matt Manning (right shoulder inflammation), Michael Pineda (right middle finger fracture), Tyler Alexander (left elbow sprain) and Spencer Turnbull (Tommy John surgery).
"It is frustrating," Hinch said. "It's easy to pile on and take is as a victim, but we're not going to do that. We've got to win games, starting today. We've been saying that for a while, so talk is cheap, as they say. We need to focus on the field and not what's happening to a club."
Skubal not expected to miss start
Left-hander Tarik Skubal, the only healthy starter from the Opening Day roster, departed from Friday's 6-1 loss to the Guardians after the fifth inning. He was hit in the left shin by a comebacker, which had a 100.4 mph exit velocity.
The 25-year-old felt optimistic after Friday's game about his chances to make his next start. As of Sunday morning, that hasn't changed. Skubal doesn't expect to miss an outing.
"I'm not worried about missing any time or anything like that," Skubal said. "This is best-case scenario for getting hit. You never want to get smoked with a ball coming back at you, but this is the best-case scenario."
Hinch traveled with Skubal from the team hotel to Progressive Field for Sunday's game.
"He was in great spirits," Hinch said. "We'll end up giving him an extra day as we rearrange the rotation, with the rainout yesterday, but that's just as much to get guys as much rest as we can during this long stretch as it is his leg. I think his leg is fine."
Skubal is lined up to Thursday against the Guardians at Comerica Park.
He has a 2.22 ERA with eight walks and 50 strikeouts over 44⅔ innings in eight starts.
The other E-Rod
Making his MLB debut April 10, Elvin Rodriguez recorded eight outs — completing 2⅔ innings of four-run ball — before the Tigers removed him. He was later optioned back to Triple-A Toledo.
Upon joining the Mud Hens, the Tigers decided to keep him as a starting pitcher.
"I consider myself to have a wide repertoire," Rodriguez said. "When you're a reliever, you have to challenge the hitters with the best you can, either fastball or slider. When you're a starter, you have a chance to face a hitter once, twice or three times during the game, so you got to change things. Besides the fastball and slider, you can use the curveball and the changeup. I'm more suited to be a starter."
He completed five innings in each of his past two starts for Toledo, throwing 77 pitches May 10 and 68 pitches May 15 as the Tigers monitored his workload as he transitioned from a reliever to a starter.
Rodriguez plans to pitch as deep as possible in Monday's game.
This time, he said he does not have a pitch restriction.
"He's likely to get a couple starts during the time where our rotation is being re-shifted," Hinch said. "We'd like to see strikes and would like to see him get into the fifth, sixth, seventh innings with the lead. He's got pitches to do it."
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Tigers' place Eduardo Rodriguez on IL (ribcage sprain)