Struggling Greene sent down to Toledo
Right-hander allowed 16 runs over nine innings in last three starts for Tigers
DETROIT -- Two months after Shane Greene was 3-0 with one earned run over his first three starts, he's now a Toledo Mud Hen. The Tigers optioned their young right-handed sinkerballer to Triple-A as he tries to work through the struggles that have hounded him for the past month.
The move, which makes room for lefty reliever Ian Krol's callup from Toledo, comes nearly eight weeks after Greene beat the White Sox at Comerica Park to improve to 3-0 in his first three starts with the Tigers. He had allowed one earned run in 23 innings, the best three-start beginning to a season by a Tigers pitcher since 1945.
Greene now has the counterbalance. After five runs on seven hits over just three innings against the Cubs on Wednesday night, he has allowed 16 earned runs on 21 hits over nine innings in his last three starts. That includes a five-homer, five-out start against the Angels two weeks ago, a first in modern Major League history.
As manager Brad Ausmus put it Wednesday, three outings does not make a season. But the club felt like Greene needed to take a step back to salvage his.
"He's got excellent stuff," Ausmus said. "He's as hard a worker as we have in this clubhouse. And I still think he's got an extremely bright future, so we're hoping he goes down there, gets away from the white-hot spotlight and is able to get back on track."
The Tigers have sent down young starters before. When Max Scherzer was struggling in his first season with the Tigers in 2010, capped by a three-homer demise against the Red Sox in mid-May, Detroit optioned him to Toledo. Scherzer made two starts for the Mud Hens, tossed 15 innings of one-run ball, struck out 14 Oakland Athletics over 5 2/3 innings in his return a couple weeks later and never went back to the Minors.
Asked about Greene's return, Ausmus said, "I'd be shocked if he wasn't back. This guy's got really good stuff and great makeup."
Greene's spot in the rotation comes up again Tuesday night at Comerica Park against the Reds, a low-average, high-power club that boasts left-handed hitters in Joey Votto, Jay Bruce and former Tiger Brennan Boesch. With Greene down, left-hander Kyle Ryan -- who pitched seven innings of two-run ball last Friday against the White Sox -- will start in his place.
The Tigers made another roster move after Friday's 4-0 victory over the Indians to make room for Justin Verlander, who is returning from the disabled list. Reliever Angel Nesbitt, who was an early-season find but has battled command of late, was optioned to Toledo.
"The last few outings, he had trouble throwing strikes, which is uncharacteristic of him," Ausmus said. "Part of the reason we liked him, despite the fact that he hadn't climbed all the way through the Minor League system, is he'd always thrown strikes. We just want him to get back to doing that. His stuff is very good, and his makeup is equally as good."