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Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Tigers outfielder nearing return from injury

DETROIT — Detroit Tigers outfielder Kerry Carpenter began a rehab assignment with Triple-A Toledo on Friday night.

Carpenter was placed on the injured list on April 29 after crashing into the wall at Comerica Park while making a catch and suffering a Grade 1 right shoulder sprain.

Carpenter suffered a mild setback earlier this month when he felt discomfort while swinging off a tee.

Carpenter, 25, was one of the Tigers’ only sources of power during the first month of the season. In 20 games, he has five doubles and four homers. He’s hitting .217 with a .744 OPS (109 OPS+).

“We love him in the middle of order, and especially against right-handed pitching. He can do a lot of things,” said Tigers manager A.J. Hinch. “But it is what it is. When you have a collision with the wall, the wall wins.”

The Tigers selected the contract of infielder/outfielder Andy Ibanez to take Carpenter’s roster spot. Given Ibanez’s recent struggles — he’s 0-for-34 since May 16 — he seems likely to be the odd man out once Carpenter returns.

In other news, Tigers left-hander Tarik Skubal threw a live batting practice session from the mound at Comerica Park on Friday, an important milestone in his return.

Skubal last pitched in a big-league game on Aug. 1 of last year and underwent flexor tendon surgery about two weeks later. Before his injury, Skubal was 7-8 with a 3.52 ERA in 21 starts over 117 2/3 innings. He had 32 walks and 117 strikeouts and an impressive 2.97 FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching).

Skubal threw 20 pitches to batters Nick Maton, Jonathan Schoop and Ibanez.

“It’s a little bit more personal when there are hitters in the box because you’re trying to get that guy out as opposed to executing against a ghost in the bullpen,” Skubal said.

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