DETROIT -- While the Tigers suffered yet another loss to their pitching rotation with Artie Lewicki going on the 10-day disabled list for inflammation in his right elbow caused by a bone spur, they learned that they've lost their backup catcher and fill-in first baseman for the remainder of the season. John Hicks will have surgery on Thursday to correct a bilateral core muscle defect.
Hicks, who went on the 10-day DL last week with a right groin strain, received the latest diagnosis after visiting Dr. William Meyers, a noted core muscle specialist and orthopedic surgeon based in Philadelphia. A follow-up MRI revealed the injury.
Surgery will require three to six weeks of recovery, essentially ending Hicks' season, according to manager Ron Gardenhire.
"A little disappointing for Hicksy," Gardenhire said. "He's done a very nice job after [Miguel] Cabrera went down, so we'll let him get well. He's been fighting this thing for a while."
Hicks opened the season backing up James McCann at catcher until Cabrera's injuries forced him into action at first base, where he more than held his own. He batted .260 with nine home runs, 32 RBIs and a .715 OPS over 81 games and 288 at-bats, both career highs for him.
By contrast, Lewicki's injury was a sudden surprise for the Tigers despite his struggles in his start Monday against the White Sox. Lewicki said he'd been battling soreness in his elbow off and on, but it flared up Tuesday.
"It's been nagging for a little bit, but it's bothered me a little more than usual after my last outing," Lewicki said. "Just wanted to nip it in the bud and catch it before it turns into something big."
The DL move comes two days after Lewicki joined the Tigers' rotation. He showed uncharacteristic command struggles and a slow pace Monday night on his way to just 4 2/3 innings with three runs on six hits. He also walked three while throwing 48 of his 82 pitches for strikes.
In hindsight, he said Wednesday, the elbow would lock up on him between innings, leading to his mechanical issues.
"I was lucky if I repeated my delivery three times in a row," Lewicki said Monday. "When you're not repeating your delivery, you don't really know where it's going. And if you can't be consistent, you can't really have success."
An MRI exam on Wednesday confirmed the bone spur, but showed no major damage, Lewicki said. His absence could be a quick one depending on how his elbow responds to anti-inflammatories.
Lewicki was filling Mike Fiers' old slot after the Tigers traded Fiers to Oakland. Jacob Turner also made a start in that slot a week ago at the Angels before being designated for assignment. Michael Fulmer and Daniel Norris are also on the disabled list. Both are on Minor League rehab assignments, but they aren't close to returning.
The Tigers will call up another starter for Saturday's game, Gardenhire said. Ryan Carpenter, currently 2-8 with a 5.30 ERA with Triple-A Toledo, is the only other available starter on the 40-man roster. However, the Tigers could open a 40-man roster spot by moving Hicks to the 60-day DL, allowing them to call up another arm.
Turner pitched for the Mud Hens on Tuesday and likely won't be an option. Matt Hall, the Tigers' 21st-ranked prospect by MLB Pipeline, is 2-0 with a 2.88 ERA in six starts at Toledo after converting from Double-A Erie's bullpen. The 25-year-old lefty is scheduled to start for the Hens on Friday.
For now, the Tigers recalled right-handed reliver Zac Reininger from Toledo for his third stint with the Tigers this season. The 25-year-old tossed a scoreless ninth inning on two hits in Wednesday's 6-5 loss to the White Sox.