Detroit Tigers' Spencer Torkelson responds to hit-by-pitch; Matt Manning makes progress

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For the final pitch of his outing, Kansas City Royals starter Brad Keller drilled Detroit Tigers rookie Spencer Torkelson in the helmet with an 88 mph changeup in Friday's seventh inning.

"It rung my bell a little bit," Torkelson said Saturday.

Keller tried to get his attention, but Torkelson was already walking off the Comerica Park field and into the dugout with athletic trainer Doug Teter and manager A.J. Hinch. The ball hit the face-protector flap attached to Torkelson's helmet, allowing 22-year-old to avoid a concussion.

"How the outing ended, I hate that it ended that way, with the changeup that got away from me and hit Torkelson in the head," Keller said Friday. "That's really tough to see. I'm happy to hear that he's doing all right."

Detroit Tigers first baseman Spencer Torkelson (20) is hit by  Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Brad Keller (56) during seventh-inning action at Comerica Park on Friday, July 1, 2022.
Detroit Tigers first baseman Spencer Torkelson (20) is hit by Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Brad Keller (56) during seventh-inning action at Comerica Park on Friday, July 1, 2022.

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After Friday's game, Keller sent a clubhouse worker to check on Torkelson's health. The clubbie brought back positive news: Although Torkelson wasn't scheduled to start Saturday, he would be available off the bench and didn't suffer a severe face or brain injury.

"It didn't really swell up too bad," Torkelson said. "I didn't even put ice on it. But it definitely got red."

At some point, Torkelson connected with Keller.

Keller apologized.

"No big deal," Torkelson responded. "It's part of the game."

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In Torkelson's previous matchup with Keller, the 2020 No. 1 overall pick crushed a mammoth two-run home run in the seventh inning April 15 at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri.

The blast put the Tigers ahead, 2-1.

As the ball soared 432 feet, an emotional Torkelson pumped his fist, turned toward his dugout, shouted to his teammates — "Come on, baby!" — and took his time getting out of the batter's box.

More than two months later, Torkelson didn't think Friday's hit-by-pitch at Comerica Park had anything to do with his home run celebration at Kauffman Stadium. After all, Keller plunked him with a changeup, not a fastball.

"We don't have any beef with the Royals, and we're good friends with many guys on the team," Torkelson said. "You know there's no intent, especially in a two-strike count in a 3-0 ballgame. 1-2 count, and then it's a changeup. There's nothing going on there."

Tigers pitcher Matt Manning throws live batting practice during Detroit Tigers spring training on Wednesday, March 16, 2022, at TigerTown in Lakeland, Florida.
Tigers pitcher Matt Manning throws live batting practice during Detroit Tigers spring training on Wednesday, March 16, 2022, at TigerTown in Lakeland, Florida.

Matt Manning throws bullpen

Right-hander Matt Manning completed a bullpen Saturday morning in Lakeland, Florida, where he is working through his throwing program with director of pitching Gabe Ribas.

It was a big step in the right direction.

Soon, Manning will begin a rehab stint with Low-A Lakeland.

The 24-year-old has been on the injured list since April 17 with right shoulder inflammation. He started four games for Triple-A Toledo in May as part of his rehab assignment but experienced a setback.

His rehab assignment is about to begin again, but the Tigers haven't set an official date for his first game. After pitching for the Flying Tigers, Manning is expected to transition to Triple-A Toledo.

Manning made two starts in April before landing on the injured list.

He could return to the rotation before the end of July.

Prospect update

Left-hander Joey Wentz is in the early stages of his throwing program in Lakeland. He is playing catch. The 24-year-old hasn't pitched competitively since May 31, when he suffered a left shoulder strain in the second MLB start of his career.

Wentz is the Tigers' No. 11 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline.

Contact Evan Petzold at epetzold@freepress.com or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzoldRead more on the Detroit Tigers and sign up for our Tigers newsletter.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Spencer Torkelson sits, but available for Detroit Tigers after HBP