Tigers’ Casey Mize not speculating on injury severity: ‘I don’t want to play the what-if game’

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Casey Mize woke up Friday morning feeling a bit sore.

His elbow was still barking when he played catch on the field that afternoon, so he decided to skip long throws and talk to the athletic trainer.

Not long after that, he was on the injury list for the first time in his premier league career. Mize will miss at least one start; Beyond that, he didn’t want to speculate.

“I leave that to the doctors and coaches and the people who look at it,” said Mize. “I really don’t want to play the what-if game. I think that’s a bad place.”

Mize, who turns 25 next month, was the No. 1 pick overall in the 2018 draft and started the season as the Tigers’ No. 2 pick behind free-agent acquisition Eduardo Rodriguez.

He pitched five innings and 88 pitches Thursday night in Kansas City and said he was feeling good.

But he noticed the pain on Friday morning.

After reporting the injury to the Tigers’ athletic training staff, the Royals’ team doctor was called in to examine him, which is standard on stadium visits.

Tigers manager AJ Hinch said when it became clear Mize wouldn’t make his next start, the decision was simple: put him on the IL and activate outfielder Daz Cameron, who had traveled with the team in the taxi squadron.

“As limited as we are on the positional player side, we wanted to activate Daz,” Hinch said. “I don’t know how significant an injury is other than we know it would be at least one start. That puts him on the injured list. He will go through a series of tests. Maybe it’s just a little bump in the road and he’ll feel better in the coming days.”

Mize has an intense focus on fitness and conditioning, but pitcher arm injuries are often unavoidable.

“I take very good care of myself and work really hard to avoid that,” he said. “Unfortunately, that’s the nature of our game. Happens. But it’s definitely not fun if you can’t contribute anything.”

In the short term, Mize’s injury means left-hander Tyler Alexander is likely to remain in the rotation. He was expected to make his second start of the season on Sunday and then switch to the bullpen when Michael Pineda was brought up from Toledo.

Instead, the Tigers could elect to scrap Pineda’s last scheduled start in Toledo on Sunday and bring him straight to Detroit for a start against the New York Yankees on either Wednesday or Thursday.

These decisions have not yet been made.

“This is all pretty new, so we’ll have to put our heads together and see what happens,” Hinch said.

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