PITTSBURGH -- Eduardo Rodriguez's No. 57 Tigers jersey was still hanging in his locker in the visitors' clubhouse at PNC Park after their 4-1 loss to the Pirates on Tuesday night, just as it had been all day. There was no sign of Rodriguez, who had left during the game, just as many had feared going into the 6 p.m. ET Trade Deadline. But in a plot twist, he had gone back to the team hotel to prepare for his Wednesday afternoon start -- for Detroit.
Though the Tigers lost a critical rotation piece when Michael Lorenzen was traded to the Phillies earlier in the day, Rodriguez remains, having exercised his no-trade rights to decline a deal to the Dodgers. It might have created an awkward situation for Detroit's front office and president of baseball operations Scott Harris, but it was business as usual for players, who will get at least a couple more months of playing behind the stingy southpaw.
At one point Tuesday, manager A.J. Hinch had multiple options lined up to pitch Wednesday. He had extra players waiting in the wings in case Detroit required reinforcements. In the end, the Tigers filled Lorenzen’s roster spot with reliever Trey Wingenter, who pitched a perfect eighth inning in Tuesday’s loss.
Now, they move on to business as usual. While Detroit added one prospect to its farm system for Lorenzen and missed out on others from the Dodgers for Rodriguez, the Tigers' Major League roster remains relatively intact in the short term, with some of the familiar struggles that put Detroit in position to be a seller at the Deadline.
“We’ve got to focus on what we can control, which is trying to play more competitive baseball and winning more games,” Hinch said. "That’s the reality. A lot of us have been together in this, and obviously, this group that we went with tonight has got an opportunity to play better as we go on. We feel good about our pitching. We know we need to address some consistencies and stuff like that, but we haven’t talked about it as a group a ton. We’re just going to make sure to show up and play a quick turnaround tomorrow.”
The Tigers have had a history of strange games around Trade Deadline day -- remember the infamous Jered Weaver game with the Angels in 2011, or a blown lead against Baltimore in 2015, or even Tarik Skubal’s abrupt exit before last year’s Deadline after weeks of trade speculation. Tuesday’s loss, however, was fairly straightforward. The Pirates plundered three second-inning runs off Matt Manning -- two on a Liover Peguero home run -- as they hit his breaking ball and never looked back.
“It was kind of a frustrating game for me,” Manning said. “I thought I had some really good stuff, paid for it when I left the ball over the plate. But I’m happy with the aggressiveness that I’m pitching with right now, and I think over time it’s going to translate really well.”
Meanwhile, Detroit's offense produced six hits in seven innings off Pirates starter Johan Oviedo. Akil Baddoo’s seventh-inning single scored Javier Báez to produce the Tigers’ lone tally.
While Manning felt good about his stuff, he also acknowledged the pressing matter in the room leading into the game.
“Today’s a hard time for everybody, I assume,” Manning said. “It’s a tough day to pitch in when you’re trying to lock in for a game and also trying to wonder if your buddy’s going to be there before the game or after the game. You have to put your head down, get to work.”
Come Wednesday, that will be Rodriguez’s task.