Tigers injury updates: Sawyer Gipson-Long season ends, Andy Ibáñez working back

A trio of injury updates are a mixed bag of news for the Tigers
Kansas City Royals v Detroit Tigers
Kansas City Royals v Detroit Tigers / Gregory Shamus/GettyImages

Detroit Tigers prospect Sawyer Gipson-Long will require an internal brace surgery on Monday to repair his UCL and will miss the entire 2024 season, the team announced Friday.

The surgery itself, according to one study that was published in January 2023 in Arthroscopy Techniques, mentioned a shorter timeline to recover using an internal brace. He should be set to return in early 2025.

“The combination of allograft reconstruction with internal brace marries the clinical advantages of high rates of return to play with the possibility of a shortened timeline of recovery because the internal brace may provide protection from mechanical forces, allowing the allograft time to heal.”

Gipson-Long, a right-handed pitcher who made huge strides in the minor leagues last season, came over in the Michael Fulmer deal in 2022. His strikeouts per nine innings jumped from 8 per 9 to 10-1/2 2023 at Double-A Erie. He added a cutter to his arsenal to go along with a fastball, slider, and a change. When we spoke to him last August, he took a few starts off per instructed by the organization to learn the cutter, which helped him neutralize left-handers.

Gipson-Long who was missing time due to a hamstring injury, made just one start during a recent rehab assignment in Lakeland before experiencing forearm tightness. With the rotation set in Detroit, Sawyer was going to be more than likely heading to Toledo to provide Detroit some additional depth.

In his four starts in September 2023, Gipson-Long allowed two earned runs or less in each start. The one start that Tigers fans should stick out the most was his September 16 start against the Angels. In that start, he allowed just one run over two hits and struck out 11.

More Detroit Tigers injury news: Andy Ibáñez, Gio Urshela

Andy Ibáñez is set to start running drills down in Lakeland, the team reported in their injury update on Friday, which means a rehab stint is just around the corner. The news comes at a good time as during the game on Friday, Gio Urshela left the game due to a hamstring tightness.

“It didn't look good,” manager A.J. Hinch said to the media after the game. “I thought he was running a little bit funny down to first, and then when he got to first and then bent over, I had a little pit in my stomach. He's going to get evaluated. … I'm never really optimistic on those type of injuries with his hammy, but we hope for the best.”

Regarding alternatives for a call-up from the 40-man roster, Buddy Kennedy, who had a brief stint with the Diamondbacks last season, would be the logical choice. If Gipson-Long moves to the 60-day injured list, third baseman Jace Jung might receive some consideration.

If Detroit considers adding Jung to the 40-man roster, his recent numbers have been disappointing. Over the past week, he batted just .158 with a .238 on-base percentage and a .368 slugging percentage (3-for-19). However, given his major league experience, Kennedy is more likely to be selected if Urshela is sidelined for an extended period.

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