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Detroit Tigers' Michael Lorenzen to miss beginning of season with left groin strain

LAKELAND, Fla. — Detroit Tigers right-hander Michael Lorenzen won't be healthy enough to pitch at the beginning of the regular season.

Lorenzen, who suffered a left groin strain last week, has been replaced in the starting rotation by left-hander Joey Wentz. For now, the Tigers have committed to Wentz pitching one of the first five games.

"We're pretty comfortable saying that he's not going to make the start of the season," Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said. "We're still encouraged with where he's at."

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Tigers starting pitcher Michael Lorenzen throws a pitch during the first inning against the Yankees at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Florida, on Friday, March 3, 2023.
Tigers starting pitcher Michael Lorenzen throws a pitch during the first inning against the Yankees at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Florida, on Friday, March 3, 2023.

Lorenzen, 31, played light catch throughout the week and will start a running progression over the weekend. The Tigers signed him to a one-year, $8.5 million contract in December 2022.

"The pitching side could be fast-forwarded relatively quickly," Hinch said, "but it's the other uncontrollable like breaking off the mound to cover first base and random position your body gets into when a comebacker comes. Those things, we're still very cautious about. I don't think he'll be far behind."

In his place, the Tigers will rely on Wentz to face either the Tampa Bay Rays or Houston Astros. The Tigers play three games against the Rays from Thursday-April 2, then three games against the Astros from April 3-5.

The home opener is April 6 against the Boston Red Sox at Comerica Park.

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Wentz, 25, has pitched better than the results indicate in spring training. He posted a 7.98 ERA with six walks and 19 strikeouts over 14⅔ innings in five games (three starts). His swing-and-miss cutter, combined with an increase in fastball velocity, generated most of his strikeouts.

The Tigers promoted Wentz in September 2022 following his recovery from a shoulder injury, and he flat-out dominated through five starts down the stretch, with a 1.73 ERA, 11 walks and 22 strikeouts in 26 innings.

"He's going to be a big part of our team," Wentz said Thursday, before the Tigers made their decision about Lorenzen's health. "We want him out there. If he happens to be down — and I don't know if he will be or not — I feel ready. I feel like I can compete at this level and get guys out."

Tyler Nevin update

Infielder Tyler Nevin, rehabbing from a left oblique strain, won't be ready for the start of the season, so he won't make the Opening Day roster. The 25-year-old will start a game progression over the weekend.

That means Nevin is close to returning to an official game.

Detroit Tigers' Tyler Nevin, right, celebrates with Andre Lipcius after hitting a three-run home run against the Baltimore Orioles during the fifth inning of a spring training baseball game Thursday, March 2, 2023, in Lakeland, Fla.
Detroit Tigers' Tyler Nevin, right, celebrates with Andre Lipcius after hitting a three-run home run against the Baltimore Orioles during the fifth inning of a spring training baseball game Thursday, March 2, 2023, in Lakeland, Fla.

"It's unlikely that he's going to have done enough to be active on Opening Day," Hinch said. "He's still behind when it comes to getting himself back into normal baseball activities at full-go, so it's unlikely that he has enough time to get himself healed."

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Nevin, who played for the Baltimore Orioles last season, hit .211 with two home runs, zero walks and four strikeouts over seven games in spring training. He suffered the oblique strain while swinging in the batting cage.

Contact Evan Petzold at epetzold@freepress.com or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Tigers' Michael Lorenzen to miss start of season with injury