When it comes to adapting to the ever-changing landscape of professional baseball, righthander Matt Manning has never been one for panic.
In fact, the 23-year-old has seemingly mastered the art of taking it all in stride.
When the coronavirus pandemic upended spring training in 2020, Manning stayed at the Tigers’ complex in Lakeland, Fla., to keep his momentum while Major League Baseball scrambled to restructure the skeleton of a regular season.
The obstacles weren’t going anywhere, so for the 6-foot-6, 195-pound Manning, it was business as usual.
“I thought it was pretty easy because I stayed down here in Lakeland getting ready,” Manning said. “With all this stuff (the Tigers) had available and the precautions we were taking, they made it pretty easy.
“I think the only thing I lost from last year was just throwing. Just losing a year of getting time at Triple-A. I think it put me back just a little bit in terms of that, but I’m right where I need to be at this point.”
Fast-forward to August and Manning was faced with another obstacle, this time in the form of a forearm strain, ultimately shutting down the 2016 first-rounder from Sheldon High in Sacramento for the rest of the year.
In typical fashion, Manning wasn’t derailed, staying in Lakeland to return to form.
“I was going to have to throw all year long just to build up my arm strength. And so I did (my throwing program),” Manning said. “I changed up my arm path just a little bit—the way I take out the ball and don’t stab—and just shortened it up. That helped a lot with how I’ve been feeling.”
Entering a healthy 2021, Manning added a hard slider to his arsenal while throwing bullpens to start the year.
“I think (the slider will) help my pitches tunnel a little better and help my curveball with just something more I can throw to get people guessing.”
Since turning pro, Manning has had to learn to trust the process as much as anyone. Don’t expect him to lose focus.
— Shortstop Zack Short, acquired from the Cubs for Cameron Maybin, made his debut with the Tigers on April 21, collecting his first major league hit against the Royals. Though he was optioned back to the alternate site two days later, Detroit’s coaching staff said it doesn’t expect him to be gone for long.
— Rony Garcia, the Tigers’ Rule 5 selection in 2019, completed his rehab, and has been reinstated from the injured list. He was then optioned to Double-A Erie. The 23-year-old has an 8.14 ERA over 21 innings with Detroit.