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Detroit Tigers 3B Tyler Nevin reports oblique soreness; Andy Ibáñez injures a finger

LAKELAND, Fla. — Detroit Tigers third baseman Tyler Nevin, in the thick of a fierce competition for a spot on the Opening Day roster, removed himself from batting practice Tuesday and reported soreness in his oblique.

The 25-year-old is receiving further tests.

“He’s going to get an MRI and get checked out,” Tigers manager AJ Hinch said Wednesday morning.

Nevin is hitting .211 (4-for-19) with two home runs and four strikeouts through seven games in spring training. He has experience at third base, first base, left field and right field in the big leagues.

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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.

He played 58 games for the Baltimore Orioles last season, registering a .197 batting average with two homers, 20 walks (10.9% walk rate) and 46 strikeouts (25% strikeout rate).

The possibility of an oblique strain is concerning.

Oblique strains typically sideline players for anywhere between a couple weeks to several months. There are three grades: Grade 1 (mild strain), Grade 2 (moderate strain) and Grade 3 (severe strain). Hitters typically take 27 days to recover from a Grade 1 strain, according to a study from former Los Angeles Dodgers athletic trainer Stan Conte in 2017.

But every injury situation is different, and the Tigers are waiting for more medical information.

“We’ll have an update on him on Friday,” Hinch said.

Another injury

Fellow third baseman Andy Ibáñez, also in the hunt for the opening at third base as a right-handed hitter, sprained the fourth finger on his left hand during the final exhibition game leading up to Cuba’s first game in the World Baseball Classic. He didn’t play in Tuesday’s 4-2 loss to the Netherlands.

Ibáñez, in an interview with a Cuban reporter, said his finger is not broken. He is expected to miss at least two games but hopes to return to the lineup at some point during Cuba’s Pool A competition, which lasts until Sunday.

“I think I’m going to recover,” Ibáñez said in the Spanish interview, translated by MLive’s Evan Woodbery.

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Hinch said the Tigers are being “pretty careful” with Ibáñez’s injury. Tigers head athletic trainer Ryne Eubanks, hired this offseason, has a relationship with Team Cuba athletic trainer Michael Salazar.

Ibáñez, whose finger is swollen, will stay with Team Cuba in Taiwan.

“We’ve been in constant communication with them,” Hinch said. “We’re up to speed with him. I know he’s limited, but nothing to report.”

Playing time up for grabs

The door appears wide open for infielder Andre Lipcius to receive more opportunities at third base in spring training because of Nevin’s injury and the absences of three infielders for the World Baseball Classic.

The 24-year-old has been playing first base and second base, so there’s an added bonus of defensive versatility.

“I like the way he swings the bat, and he’s increasing his versatility, which is the point of camp for him,” Hinch said after Tuesday’s win. “He’s doing what he’s always done.”

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Nick Maton, a left-handed hitter, is expected to be the starting third baseman against right-handed pitchers. The Tigers would benefit from a right-handed hitting third baseman to platoon with him.

Lipcius, a former third-round draft pick, fits what the Tigers need and want since he bats right-handed and controls the strike zone. In eight games, he is hitting .467 (7-for-15) with one double, three home runs, zero walks and two strikeouts.

In 2022, Lipcius hit .277 with 12 home runs, 86 walks and 89 strikeouts across 134 games between Double-A Erie (88 games) and Triple-A Toledo (46 games). He hit .278 against righties and .271 against lefties.

Ryan Kreidler, another right-handed hitter, could get more playing time at third base.

A key hit in WBC

Second baseman Jonathan Schoop is playing for the Netherlands.

In Tuesday’s game against Cuba, his team’s infield featured Didi Gregorius at first base, Schoop at second base, Xander Bogaerts at shortstop and Andrelton Simmons at third base.

“I woke up to Schoop playing last night,” Hinch said. “I put my TV on it to see if I could stay up, and spring training hours don’t often lead to that when you play at 11 pm, but I did wake up in the middle of that game and saw his face on my TV. That was enough for me. I checked the box score and went back to bed.”

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Schoop helped spark a three-run sixth inning with a single to right field against Cuban left-handed reliever Onelki Garcia. Before his at-bat, Gregorius drew a four-pitch leadoff walk.

Josh Palacios put the Netherlands ahead 2-1 with a one-out RBI single to center field, and Chadwick Tromp extended the lead to 4-1 with a two-out, two-RBI single to center field.

Schoop finished 1-for-3 with two strikeouts.

“We want them to do well,” Hinch said. “If he had walked, he probably would have texted me. The one knock and a couple punchouts didn’t get me a message. We want all these guys to do really well.”

The Dutch play Panama at 11 pm Wednesday; the Cubans play Italy at 6 am Thursday.

Contact Evan Petzold at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Tigers’ Tyler Nevin, competing at 3B, reports injury