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Tigers’ Riley Greene Headed To IL With Stress Fracture


10:00am: The Tigers have formally announced Greene’s placement on the injured list and the selection of Marisnick’s contract. In order to open a spot on the 40-man roster for Marisnick, Detroit transferred righty Trey Wingenter from the 15-day injured list to the 60-day injured list. Wingenter has already missed five weeks due to tendinitis in his throwing shoulder. The move to the 60-day IL doesn’t reset his IL requirements, so he’ll be eligible for reinstatement late next month.

9:30am: The Tigers have placed center fielder Riley Greene on the 10-day injured list with a stress fracture in his left fibula, tweets Cody Stavenhagen of The Athletic. Greene exited last night’s game with discomfort in his lower leg, and a subsequent MRI revealed the injury. There’s no firm timetable on his recovery just yet, as he’s headed for a second opinion, but the injury figures to sideline him well beyond that 10-day minimum.

Just hours before Greene suffered the injury, the Tigers had acquired veteran outfielder Jake Marisnick from the White Sox in exchange for cash. Manager AJ Hinch said after last night’s game that the plan had been to select Marisnick’s contract anyhow, but the injury to Greene makes Marisnick’s acquisition all the more important, as the slick-fielding and fleet-footed veteran can provide Detroit with an alternative in center field.

Greene’s injury comes just as the 22-year-old former top prospect looked to be breaking out and reaching his potential. Drafted with the fifth overall selection back in 2019, Greene entered the 2022 season ranked among the sport’s ten best prospects on most publications but delivered a fairly tepid .253/.321/.362 batting line in 93 games as a 21-year-old rookie. This season, he’s slashing .296/.362/.443 with five home runs, nine doubles, three triples and six steals (in six attempts).

The past month, in particular, has been a torrid one for Greene. He’s hitting .365/.435/.573 since the calendar flipped to May, and while he won’t sustain this month’s sky-high .485 average on balls in play, there are plenty of positives amid the hot streak. Greene fanned in 31.1% of his plate appearances in March/April but cut that to 25% in May. His walk rate jumped from 7.8% to 11.1% as he’s cut five percentage points off his chase rate on pitches off the plate.

After averaging a pedestrian 89.4 mph off the bat with an overall 38.6% hard-hit rate in the season’s first month, Greene erupted with a 94.1 mph average exit velocity and 55.1% hard-hit rate in May. Even assuming some regression of that BABIP, Greene has cut back on his chases, struck out less, walked more and radically improved the quality of his batted-ball profile during his recent hot streak.

All of that positive progress will grind to halt for the time being, however, as Greene will require an absence — likely of some note — while this injury mends. His placement on the injured list comes just one day after Detroit put top starter Eduardo Rodriguez and outfielder Matt Vierling on the injured list due to a pulley/tendon injury and a lower back injury, respectively. The injuries to Greene and Rodriguez, in particular, are major blows to the surprising Tigers, who have outplayed expectations and find themselves two games out of the AL Central lead and within arm’s reach (six games) of the final AL Wild Card spot.

Detroit’s outfield has been plagued by health issues all season. Greene will join Vierling, Kerry Carpenter (shoulder sprain) and Austin Meadows (anxiety) on the injured list. That likely leaves Marisnick, Akil Baddoo and utilityman Zach McKinstry as the primary outfield trio, with Tyler Nevin perhaps mixing in against some left-handed pitching in favor of the lefty-swinging McKinstry or Baddoo. The Tigers have some other outfield options on the 40-man roster — namely Parker Meadows (Austin’s younger brother). The 23-year-old has a .239/.327/.410 slash in Triple-A this year but has been rolling of late, batting .289/.353/.578 with three homers, a pair of doubles and a triple over the past two weeks.

For now, it seems Marisnick will be ticketed for a prominent role. He’s a career .228/.281/.384 hitter in 2166 plate appearances, which doesn’t inspire much optimism with regard to his potential offensive contributions, but the 32-year-old is also one of the sport’s premier outfield defenders. Dating back to his 2013 MLB debut, Marisnick ranks eight among 1044 big league outfielders with 76 Defensive Runs Saved — and all seven of the names ahead of him on the list have received greater playing time to accumulate those higher totals. His 48 Outs Above Average since Statcast debuted the statistic rank 12th among all outfielders.

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