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 Callups are starting!

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PostSubject: Callups are starting!   Sun Aug 30, 2009 6:04 pm

Callups likely to boost Tigers' pitching
Extra catcher, some bats also considered possibilities

By Jason Beck / MLB.com

08/30/09 3:00 PM ET

DETROIT -- Tigers manager Jim Leyland sounded like someone who had pulled off a great escape as he looked ahead on the calendar.

"We're treading water," Leyland said, "but we're getting closer."

He wasn't talking about the American League Central race. He was talking about the upcoming arrival of September callups. Come Tuesday, when rosters expand, help is on the way.

When the Tigers optioned Eddie Bonine to Triple-A Toledo to make room for just-acquired Aubrey Huff, they took the chance of going with a six-man bullpen rather than Leyland's preference for seven relievers. That goes against a longtime Leyland credo that if he couldn't have a 12-man pitching staff -- five starters plus seven relievers -- he would rather go with 13 pitchers than 11.

It didn't seem like Leyland would go with 11 for long, certainly not through the Tigers' recent West Coast trip, but a stretch of deep starts, a dearth of extra-inning games and some key long-relief performances from Fu-Te Ni, Zach Miner and Ryan Perry have helped get Detroit through. Once reinforcements arrive Tuesday, it'll be sure to include an influx of arms.

"You have a lot more flexibility," Leyland said of a bigger bullpen. "You have guys to pick you up."

Starting Tuesday, anyone from a team's 40-man roster is eligible to be active with the big league club. Leyland has never been a big fan of that, complaining that having so many extra players takes away from the strategy of managing a roster in a close game. A team that might only have a couple left-handed relievers on a 25-man roster, for example, has to use them more judiciously than if it has two more available with expanded rosters.

This year, Leyland isn't going to complain about having a few extra players, but he'd rather keep it to 28-30 players. That said, it isn't difficult to envision the Tigers going beyond that this year as they try to bolster a team that could use pitching depth and a couple more bats.

While the Tigers won't announce callups until Monday night at the earliest, a few needs are pretty close to certainties. Leyland would like to have an extra catcher on the roster, which would allow him to use rookie Alex Avila in pinch-hit situations without having to worry about depth if Gerald Laird is injured during a game. The only other catcher on the 40-man roster is Dusty Ryan, who served as Laird's backup for part of the summer before he was optioned to Triple-A Toledo to make room for Avila a month ago.

Jeremy Bonderman is expected to be recalled from his rehab assignment at Toledo and activated from the 15-day DL to join the bullpen as a potentially valuable arm. He pitched in only one game with the Tigers this year in between stints on the DL with shoulder soreness.

Likewise, Armando Galarraga will return to action when he's healthy, whether it's in the rotation or the bullpen. The Tigers shelved him last week with inflammation in his right elbow, but they optioned him to Toledo instead of placing him on the DL so that they could bring him back in as little as 10 days rather than 15.

From there, the decisions become intriguing. The Tigers have Bonine, Freddy Dolsi and Casey Fien working in Toledo and potentially available for relief depth, while Alfredo Figaro is at Double-A Erie on a rehab assignment. While sidearming lefty Clay Rapada has been a versatile reliever for the Mud Hens, he made just a brief stint in Detroit in late April and early May, comprised of two appearances covering 2 1/3 innings.

On the positional front besides Ryan, it would not be a surprise to see the Tigers add to their outfield corps with top hitting prospect Wilkin Ramirez, who made a couple cameo appearances in Detroit this summer. Toledo's regular left fielder started in center this weekend for the first time in his professional career. He could give the Tigers more flexibility to rest Curtis Granderson against left-handed pitchers.

The most important additions, though, will be on the pitching side. And as the Tigers head into the stretch run of their playoff chase, they'll be quite welcome.

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


“It takes pitching, hitting and defense. Any two can win. All three make you unbeatable.”    
–Joe Garagiola


Last edited by GoGetEmTigers on Mon Aug 31, 2009 5:14 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: Callups are starting!   Sun Aug 30, 2009 6:47 pm

I hate September callups rant

I mean seriously, what kind of sport lets you have tons of new players and completely change the way you play the game right when the season is coming down to the wire.

Now you can have 10 left-handed specialists in the bullpen and never let a LH batter face a RH pitcher after about the 5th inning if you want.


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PostSubject: Re: Callups are starting!   Mon Aug 31, 2009 5:26 pm

Tigers reveal six September callups
Bullpen bolstered with three righties; more players due later

By Jason Beck / MLB.com

08/31/09 12:44 PM ET

DETROIT -- Now that the Tigers survived the back half of August with one less relief pitcher, reinforcements are on the way.

The team announced its September callups Monday, adding a half-dozen players to the roster for the stretch run. That includes three additions to the bullpen with right-handers Jeremy Bonderman, Eddie Bonine and Casey Fien.

Bonderman, who has spent most of August on a rehab assignment with Triple-A Toledo, will be activated from the 15-day disabled list Tuesday. Bonine and Fien will be recalled from the Mud Hens, as will catcher Dusty Ryan and outfielder Wilkin Ramirez. Infielder Brent Dlugach will have his contract purchased and added to the Tigers roster.

The moves will bring the Tigers' active roster to 31 players, with more on the way. Right-hander Armando Galarraga, who was optioned to Toledo last week but remains in Detroit to work through inflammation in his throwing elbow, will be recalled Saturday. That's the first day he's eligible to return; he has to spend at least 10 days in the Minors unless he replaces an injured player, which won't be happening in this case. He's scheduled to start Friday for Toledo.

Other additions, manager Jim Leyland indicated, will be made once the Mud Hens' season ends next Monday.

"I like the addition of pitchers," manager Jim Leyland said. "Plus, we'll get one more back when Galarraga's ready."

Bonderman's return was expected once the Tigers sent him out on rehab. He gave up nine earned runs in 14 innings over 11 relief appearances with the Hens, but created plenty of encouragement when he hit 95 mph in an outing last week.

His only appearance with the Tigers this season came June 8 against the White Sox, who roughed him up for six runs on eight hits over four innings. He went back on the disabled list after that with continued shoulder soreness following surgery to correct a blood vessel condition in his shoulder.

"He'll be on the staff," Leyland said. "I'll use him out of the bullpen. He will not be starting."

Bonine was the guy the Tigers sent out to make room for Aubrey Huff on the roster following his trade from the Orioles on Aug. 17. His last game action with the Tigers was a spot start in late July, but he'll be used out of the bullpen for the stretch run. He has allowed 11 runs over 14 innings in five games with Detroit this summer.

Fien had one brief stint with the Tigers this summer, giving up four runs over as many innings in four games, but the 25-year-old owns a 2-1 record and 3.41 ERA over 58 innings at Toledo.

Ryan was virtually assured of a call to Detroit as a third catcher for the roster, allowing Leyland use Alex Avila as a pinch-hitter and in other late-game situations without having to worry about an injury replacement if he or Gerald Laird gets hurt. He went 4-for-25 with four RBIs in 11 games with the Tigers this summer before Detroit brought up Avila to replace him.

Ramirez, Detroit's top outfield prospect heading into the season, had a pair of one-game stints with the Tigers this season, but has done the bulk of his damage with the Mud Hens. The multi-tooled 23-year-old entered Monday batting .258 with 17 doubles, six triples, 17 home runs, 51 RBIs and 33 stolen bases over 112 games in Toledo.

"Ramirez is a good fit," Leyland said, "because he can pinch-run, play against a lefty or maybe pinch-hit against a lefty."

Dlugach is the only one of the callups who hasn't yet had an appearance with the Tigers. The former sixth-round pick in the 2004 First-Year Player Draft was a relatively promising shortstop prospect before a torn labrum in his shoulder derailed his last two seasons. Finally healthy, he has turned in an All-Star season with the Mud Hens, batting .294 with 36 doubles, nine home runs and 59 RBIs in 124 games.

"I felt like if we happen to pinch-hit for [Adam] Everett, you're not limited at shortstop. Dlugach is a guy who can really catch the ball."

The 26-year-old Dlugach started at third base Sunday, an indication he could also end up as an insurance policy if Brandon Inge needs more days off or eventually has to go on the DL.

To make room for Dlugach on the roster, the Tigers will call up shortstop Michael Hollimon from Double-A Erie, but only as a procedural move. He will be immediately placed on the 60-day disabled list, allowing the Tigers to fill his spot on the 40-man roster. He's recovering from surgery on his shoulder.

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


“It takes pitching, hitting and defense. Any two can win. All three make you unbeatable.”    
–Joe Garagiola
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