LAKELAND, Florida — Detroit tigers reliever Kyle Funkhouser has been guaranteed a spot on the opening day roster.
The 28-year-old showed his worth in 2021, posting a 3.42 ERA with 38 walks and 63 strikeouts in 68⅓ innings in 57 games (two starts). He won high leverage situations and became an important member of the bullpen.
But Funkhouser won’t be in Detroit on April 8 for opening day.
He will be at the TigerTown complex in Lakeland, preparing for his delayed start to the regular season. The right-handed suffered a latissimus dorsi strain in mid-February, about three weeks before MLB’s lockdown ended, and was not without pain until last week.
The good news: Funkhouser is launching again.
“This is my third day casting, 75-90 feet,” Funkhouser said Sunday. “Basically the last few weeks I’ve been doing rehab stuff with the trampoline and weighted balls, just to get my arm moving. When I started throwing the other day, it was fine. We wanted to make sure everything was fine. I felt good before I started throwing again.”
Funkhouser, based on the Tigers’ throwing schedule, plans to stay at Lakeland for a few weeks after his teammates leave for Detroit. Now that his body feels healthy, he is in the early stages of increasing his stamina.
Once Funkhouser moves to the mound, he’ll increase his pitching count with relievers, live batting practices and, possibly, rehab outings for Low-A Lakeland and Triple-A Toledo.
“They didn’t give me a date or anything, but hopefully a few weeks and not too long,” Funkhouser said. “Maybe three, four weeks to start and get off the mound. Maybe a few games here and a few games in Toledo. Hopefully I’ll be back in about a month. I’m positively thinking about a month.”
He aims to return to the Tigers in May.
“They didn’t give me a full time frame,” Funkhouser said, “but hopefully that’s about it. Hopefully it’s not too long.”
Wily Peralta: “I’m ready”
right-handed Wily Peralta doesn’t expect to stay long in Low-A Lakeland, given that the 32-year-old has remained active in the Dominican Republic while awaiting his work visa.
He signed a minor league contract on March 16, but didn’t show up for spring training until Saturday. He’s already stretched out three innings but has to face batters in high-intensity game situations.
“I’m happy to be back,” Peralta said on Monday.
The Tigers will send Peralta to the Flying Tigers for at least two outings, then he’ll move on to Triple-A Toledo. Soon after, he should be ready to join the Tigers bullpen.
“I don’t think it’s going to take long to prepare because I’ve been able to keep throwing the Dominican,” Peralta said, “but I don’t know anything yet. I’m going to throw a bullpen today. I’m just to finish my physical. Whatever they need, I’m ready.
Peralta posted a 3.07 ERA with 38 walks and 58 strikeouts in 93⅔ innings in 19 games (18 starts) for the Tigers in 2021. He had a 14.4% strikeout rate and a strikeout rate of 9.5% walking.
The Tigers plan to use him as a multi-inning reliever in 2022.
“I’m ready to do anything,” said Peralta, who started 138 of 230 games during his nine-year MLB career. “Whatever they need me to do to help them, I will be able to do it, and I will be happy to do it too.”
WARdle offers Candy
There’s a Wordle-style baseball game on the Internet, and some Tigers clubhouse players are active participants. It’s called WARdlenamed after WAR (Wins Above Replacement), and the task is guess an active Major League Baseball player each day.
On Monday, the Tigers third baseman Jeimer Candelario was the player of the day. As people guess different players, the game provides clues: team, league/division, bats, throws, country, age and position.
“It’s awesome,” Candelario said, after right-handed reliever Jason Foley taught him how to play WARdle.
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: When the Detroit Tigers could get Kyle Funkhouser back