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 Tigers option Villarreal, recall Gonzalez

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PostSubject: Tigers option Villarreal, recall Gonzalez   Sun May 22, 2011 11:51 pm

Tigers option Villarreal, recall Gonzalez
By Jason Beck / MLB.com | 05/22/11 7:34 PM ET

PITTSBURGH -- When Tigers manager Jim Leyland talked about sorting out his bullpen Sunday morning, he hinted at the ability of veteran relievers to sometimes handle long stretches of inactivity better than youngsters. It turned out to be a forecast for a postgame move.

Once the Tigers wrapped up their road trip on Sunday afternoon by beating the Pirates, they optioned rookie right-hander Brayan Villarreal to Triple-A Toledo. That opened a spot for the return of veteran long reliever Enrique Gonzalez, back after being outrighted to Toledo a month ago.

Both pitchers made the Opening Day roster, but neither put up particularly strong numbers. Villarreal allowed 11 runs on 19 hits over 15 1/3 innings, with five of those runs coming in his past three games. He walked seven and struck out 14.

It probably wasn't a coincidence that Villarreal's worst struggles coincided with a lighter workload. After pitching in eight of Detroit's first 17 games and 11 of the first 28, he had made just three appearances since May 2. Saturday's appearance was his first since May 10.

"Villarreal's not quite ready yet," Leyland said, "and the way we were using him, he wasn't getting enough work."

Gonzalez gave up seven runs on eight hits over 5 1/3 innings in five appearances, then took over closing duties in Toledo, where he posted six saves and 15 strikeouts over 10 2/3 innings and 10 appearances.

To make room for Gonzalez on the 40-man roster, the Tigers transferred Carlos Guillen from the 15- to 60-day disabled list. It's mainly a procedural move, since Guillen had already been on the 15-day DL since the Tigers broke camp in late March, and is still a ways removed from a Minor League rehab assignment.

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


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