Detroit – If rookie right-hander Jason Foley didn’t look good when he made his big-league debut on June 6, well, that’s because he wasn’t.

Some guy going through the system was throwing balls at 100mph, there had to be a reason his fastball was coming in at 92, 93, 95mph. There had to be a reason he was spraying pitches and hitting batters in unusual ways.

“Actually, my shoulder was bothering me a bit,” Foley said ahead of Saturday’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays. “It bothered me here and just when I was fired. Just a little bit of discomfort in there.

Inflammation of the shoulder is a scary thing for a pitcher. This can portend ailments such as the rotator cuff or damage to the labrum. In this case, it was just inflammation. No structural damage.

“Once I started working with the coaches and took it out, I felt a lot better,” Foley said. “I threw the ball a lot more freely. “

Foley, 25, hit three of 22 batters he faced in his brief four-game audition in June. He had a few tough outings for the Toledo Mud Hens when he came down for the first time. But he’s been off for a month and a half, allowing three runs with 14 strikeouts in his last 13 1/3 innings. Triple-A hitters only hit 0.200 and hit 0.267 against him.

“He’s just settled in,” Tigers manager AJ Hinch said. “It’s a developing launcher. They are not finished products. It wasn’t finished when we brought it here and it’s still not a finished product. It takes a lot of experience, maturity and growth.

“(Toledo pitching coach) Doug Bochtler did a great job rebuilding his confidence on the mound to throw the ball over the plate with action.”

Hinch said he spoke to Toledo manager Tom Prince on Saturday to discuss where to set up receivers for Foley at certain pitches.

“We just want to give him the best chance of being an effective striker,” Hinch said. “Because when he’s in the zone he’s mean on any level.”

Foley added a few steps to his pre-game and post-game shoulder program, but didn’t have to make any changes to his mechanics.

“I think my confidence was boosted a bit because my arm felt better,” Foley said. “It was no longer in my head and I was able to go out and just let him eat.”

Foley never doubted he would get a second chance in the big leagues, at least not once he got his right shoulder.

“It was frustrating,” he said. “That’s not how you wrote it. But once my arm felt better, it was only a matter of time. Once I started feeling good and throwing the ball a lot better, I knew another chance would come soon.

Seven-way rotation

Hinch said left-hander Tyler Alexander, who was scheduled to work long shifts on Saturday, will start in Cincinnati on Friday.

With Jose Urena back, Matthew Boyd back from the injured roster on Sunday and Wily Peralta due to return this week, the Tigers will mix and match seven starters, using tandem starts to help manage the workload of three. newbies – Casey Mize, Tarik Skubal and Matt Manning.

“We’re going to be releasing our entries series by series,” Hinch said. “It’s going to change a lot. “

Lange immortalized

Alex Lange has always been linked with Miguel Cabrera’s 500th home run.

Whenever the video airs people will still see Alex Lange’s face and stats on the auxiliary scoreboard under the caption – “Alex Lange is now warming up in the Tigers’ pen” – as the ball passes above the field fence in the center right.

“It’s a pretty cool time to be a part of it,” said Lange, the Tigers rookie right-hander.

But as to what is its only connection to immortality, let’s not close the book on that just yet.

“Hopefully that’s not the reason they remember me,” he laughs.

Hill strikes again

Remember Derek Hill’s incredible diving catch in center-left field in Toronto last Sunday? When he stole at least a double from Kevin Smith? Well, Hill recovered Smith again on Friday night, following his liner to the wall, making a last second adjustment, jumping and catching the ball right on top of the fence.

“Derek down center made all the difference in our defense,” said Hinch. “It’s fun to see how an improvement in the center can improve the turns just by moving the guys. … Our field defense, when Derek is playing, it makes a difference.

“Stealing the home run is one thing, but there are at least three or four games a game where Derek does something that looks normal and that’s above average. It doesn’t go unnoticed by me or the staff, or the pitching staff.

Around the horn

The Tigers will announce a roster change after Saturday’s game to allow Boyd to return to the rotation. He is expected to be a down position player, possibly an outfielder.

Twitter: @cmccosky


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