As Rick Porcello reunion talks perk up, Tigers’ AJ Hinch keeping focus internal

AJ Hinch: “I’m not going to look my players in the face or…

As Rick Porcello reunion talks perk up, Tigers' AJ Hinch keeping focus internal 1
As Rick Porcello reunion talks perk up, Tigers' AJ Hinch keeping focus internal 2

Chris McCosky
| The Detroit News

Lakeland, Fla. — Every day, it seems, the Tigers are either adding or in talks to add more pitching.

Veteran Wily Peralta agreed to a minor-league deal Thursday night. With right-hander Taijuan Walker signing with the New York Mets on Friday, the door is now possibly open for a reunion between the Tigers and right-hander Rick Porcello.

Such a reunion, which reported Friday, has been a point of speculation for the last couple of weeks in The News and elsewhere, especially after general manager Al Avila on Tuesday made it clear he was still hunting for starting pitching.

“We’re definitely looking for more pitching as we speak,” Avila said. “Whether it be a major-league contract or a minor-league deal with a camp invite. We’re definitely looking. For pitching in general, but one more starter would be ideal.”

Porcello, 32, is coming off a couple of rocky seasons with the Red Sox and Mets (5.55 ERA and a 1.43 WHIP). But, significant for the Tigers, he made 44 starts and ate 233 innings.

His presence in the Tigers rotation would afford the club protection for Michael Fulmer, who is still working back from Tommy John surgery, as well as extra time to incubate prospects Casey Mize, Tarik Skubal and Matt Manning.

For manager AJ Hinch, though, the speculation and the signings put him in somewhat of an awkward spot. Certainly, any manager wants as many legitimate options in camp; can’t have too much competition at any position. But what message is it sending to the players that he’s coaching every day?

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“Inside that clubhouse, inside this building, I want these players to know that we have enough,” Hinch said Friday morning. “We have enough quality and we have enough quantity. It’s out of their control whether we add players or not.

“I’m not going to look my players in the face or be quoted saying we need more pitching. That’s not showing confidence in the group that we have.”

Hinch, again, is not opposed to adding talent. And as one who has held front office jobs in the big leagues before, he understands the process better than most.

“But showing up for work every day, I’m not looking at what we don’t have,” he said. “I’m looking at what we do have and the quality that is associated with that. We’ve got guys who can do a good job.”

There was no indication Friday that Porcello, the 2016 American League Cy Young winner, and the Tigers were close to an agreement, just that there was communication between the two sides.

Porcello was a staple in the Tigers rotation from 2009-14.

Twitter: @cmccosky

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