Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
news

MLB News

Boyd successfully mixing up offspeed pitches

MLB.com @beckjason

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Matthew Boyd does not throw an eephus pitch, unlike some of his former Tigers teammates. He had one Wednesday by accident.

"I crossed up the signs on [catcher] Derek [Norris]," Boyd said. "I was going to throw a curveball and he was setting up for a fastball. I didn't want to hurt him, so I just tried to flip it in. In hindsight, I should've just thrown it in the ground."

View Full Game Coverage

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Matthew Boyd does not throw an eephus pitch, unlike some of his former Tigers teammates. He had one Wednesday by accident.

"I crossed up the signs on [catcher] Derek [Norris]," Boyd said. "I was going to throw a curveball and he was setting up for a fastball. I didn't want to hurt him, so I just tried to flip it in. In hindsight, I should've just thrown it in the ground."

View Full Game Coverage

The resulting 67-mph breaking ball floated over the plate and was crushed to left field. Victor Reyes ran it down at the fence, preventing additional trouble, but Boyd learned his lesson.

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

The eephus was an accident, but the other 20 or so he threw in at 80 mph or slower were not. Boyd was changing speeds early and often Wednesday, ranging from changeups and breaking balls at 72-73 mph to fastballs at 93. While the results were mixed thanks to two Norris passed balls and a series of balls that got by utility candidate Ronny Rodriguez at third base, the reactions to pitches were encouraging.

"Just working on mixing everything and attacking with everything," said Boyd, who yielded one earned run and one unearned run on three hits in three innings. "Working on the slider and whatnot quite a bit, too, so using everything today."

Tigers Spring Training info

There are statistics behind this. According to Statcast™, Boyd's hard-hit rate on his curveballs and sliders last year was 13.5 percent, which was second best among the 149 MLB starters who had at least 50 batted balls against those pitches. Moreover, 56 percent of his pitches to left-handed hitters last year were offspeed, about 20 points above the league average.

Once susceptible to home runs because he challenged hitters with fastballs, Boyd has matured into a well-rounded pitcher. Now he wants to diversify when he throws his secondary pitches, not just what pitches he throws.

"I've started using [the slider] as more than just a strikeout pitch, more of an action pitch sometimes now, too," Boyd said. "A few of those ground balls were from sliders. It's definitely becoming more of a weapon for me, and something that I'll probably use a little more in the course of a game if the game dictates it more, too. I feel comfortable with it."

Tigers release Wood
The Tigers have released lefty Travis Wood, whose season likely ended last week when he tore the ACL and medial meniscus in his left knee. It's essentially a procedural move for Wood, who came to Lakeland on a Minor League contract with a non-roster invite to big league camp.

Wood underwent surgery to repair his knee on Wednesday, conducted by Dr. Keith Meister in Dallas. The roster move does not affect coverage for the procedure by the Tigers. While Wood will officially be a free agent, he's still being paid under the two-year contract he signed with the Royals before last season.

Video: ATL@DET: Wood forced to exit after tearing ACL

Ex-Tiger Pelfrey retires
Former Tiger Mike Pelfrey has retired. The big right-hander is getting into coaching as an assistant at Newman University in his hometown of Wichita, Kan., according to NCAA.com.

Pelfrey was part of the Tigers' free-agent moves during Al Avila's first offseason as general manager in 2015-16, signing a two-year, $16 million contract. He posted a 4-10 record and a 5.07 ERA in 22 starts and two relief appearances in 2016, then was released last Spring Training. He hooked on with the White Sox last year, posting a 3-12 record and a 5.93 ERA in 21 starts and 13 relief appearances.

Injury updates
Michael Fulmer said Wednesday morning that his elbow feels good after throwing a bullpen session Tuesday. Fulmer said the muscular soreness that bumped him from Sunday's scheduled start against the Nationals was a flare-up that went away quickly.

Pitching coach Chris Bosio said it's "gonna be tough" for lefty reliever Blaine Hardy to get enough appearances and innings this spring to be ready for Opening Day. Hardy has yet to pitch in a game this spring due to inflammation in his left shoulder. He's scheduled to throw a bullpen session Tuesday.

"He's lost three appearances probably, and three more bullpens," Bosio said. "So somehow we're going to have to make up for at least three bullpens and a simulated game for him before he sees action."

Bosio also confirmed that starter Mike Fiers was dealing with a back issue early in Spring Training, which is why he was skipped for the first turn through the Grapefruit League rotation.

Manufacturing offense
Two of the Tigers' early runs in Wednesday's 6-5 loss to the Blue Jays came through small ball. Leonys Martin led off the first inning with a single, stole second, advanced to third on a Jose Iglesias grounder to the right side, then scored on a Miguel Cabrera sacrifice fly. Two innings later, Martin bunted Rodriguez over to third base -- nearly getting a bunt single in the process -- following Rodriguez's leadoff double, setting up an Iglesias sac fly.

"I love that kind of baseball," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "That's playing the game, trying to do a job and get yourself a knock, too."

Video: TOR@DET: V. Martinez rips a solo home run to left

The rest of the offense came on home runs. Victor Martinez hit a solo shot just out of the reach of Dalton Pompey over the left-field fence for his third homer of the spring in the second inning before Nicholas Castellanos hit a no-doubt two-run homer over the batter's eye in center in the sixth for his fourth of the Grapefruit League.

Video: TOR@DET: Castellanos puts Tigers up with two-run jack

Up next
Jordan Zimmermann will make his third start of the spring Thursday when the Tigers visit Bradenton, Fla., for a 1:05 p.m. ET game against the Pirates, which can be seen live on MLB.TV and MLB Network. Zimmermann has given up three runs on five hits over 4 2/3 innings in his previous two outings. Mikie Mahtook, Martin, Jeimer Candelario and Dixon Machado will be among the regulars on the trip.

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.

Detroit Tigers, Matthew Boyd