Manning suffers fractured toe in loss to Blue Jays

April 12th, 2023

TORONTO -- hit the first home run of the redesigned Rogers Centre, which possibly could’ve been out of the previously designed, bigger outfield. was robbed of a homer to center and hit another 400 feet out to the shadow of the center-field fence. But arguably the most impressive exit velocity from the Tigers in Tuesday’s 9-3 loss to the Blue Jays was  slamming his glove into the dugout bench after giving up back-to-back home runs in the fifth inning to put the Jays on top for good.

What was once a 3-0 lead turned into a 4-3 deficit, and Manning took it personally. He probably should’ve been handed a bigger lead, but he put it on his shoulders nonetheless, which is why he refocused for the sixth inning, pitched angrily and retired the Blue Jays in order.

“Pitch as long as I can, go out there and continue to attack, not let them score any more runs,” said Manning, the first Tiger to go six innings in a start this season. “No one likes to get homers hit off of them. I take it personally. I went out there and attacked.”

Manning snapped a slider past Matt Chapman, who had burned him for a home run two innings earlier. He retired Brandon Belt after giving up a single and a double to him in previous at-bats. Then he challenged Alejandro Kirk with three of his hardest fastballs of the night, the last of which Kirk sent back at him and off his right foot.

As Manning raced to cover first base and take first baseman ’s toss for the third out, the pitcher didn’t notice his pinkie toe hurting.

“I didn't think it was that bad,” said Manning. “[I] thought it was, like, normal, just bruised my foot a little bit.”

When a precautionary X-ray revealed a fracture of his fifth metatarsal, Manning had every right to be frustrated, even more so than the inning before. The 2016 first-round Draft pick missed most of last season with a right shoulder inflammation issue that knocked him out of his second start. Manning returned in August, then he missed what would’ve been his final start of the season with a right forearm strain.

With fellow first-round pick rehabbing from Tommy John surgery and good friend out until likely midseason rehabbing from left flexor tendon surgery, Manning wanted to step up as a go-to starter in the Tigers’ rotation. Now, he’s dealing with another injury in his second start.

“I need to be out there to pitch,” Manning said. “I need to be out there to get that experience and just keep on growing as a pitcher. This, I don't really have time for.”

That desire to pitch, to build on two encouraging starts this season and help stabilize a rotation that went through 17 starters last year, was likely overriding Manning’s sense of reason as he talked about how long he might be out.

“Give it some rest, be out of there in five days. Why not? That’s my mindset,” said Manning, his right foot in a walking boot. “I'm going to do what I can. Go see some people, get it right and be back out there.”

Reality seemed to creep in as he continued his interview.

“This is the same time I got hurt last year,” Manning said. “Freak accident, can't do anything about it, but try to think maybe give it a week off, see how it feels and get back out there. I mean, it's just a foot.”

The Tigers aren’t likely to take any risk with one of their valued young starters. With expected back this week from a groin ailment that put him on the injured list to open the season, the club could slot him in and keep  on turn.

Detroit hasn’t thought that far out yet. Manager A.J. Hinch didn’t know Manning had undergone X-rays until the results came back during the ninth inning. As he digests a 2-8 start, the skipper has more to ponder.

And the Tigers’ group of golden arms -- Manning, Skubal and Mize -- can’t help but feel snakebit.

“I think about them,” Manning said. “I just hope it's not going to be too long. That's all I can really keep my mindset about. It stinks.”