In the wake of the Tigers latest drubbing at the hands of the New York Mets, manager Jim Leyland announced a roster move. Optioned to Triple-A Toledo was left hander Daniel Schlereth and recalled to take his place was right hander Brayan Villarreal.
Leyland talked about how consecutive bad starts from Rick Porcello and Phil Coke necessitated this move, but in truth (and Leyland noted this as well) Schlereth could use a tune up with the Mud Hens. While left handed batters are still hitting under .180 against him this year, right handed hitters have been feasting off him. The two grand slams he allowed on Tuesday both came against right handed hitters, but those were merely indicative of the overall problem. Schlereth either needs to learn how to pitch to right handed batters, or Leyland needs to learn how to use him as a LOOGy, and a LOOGy only.
While the move to recall Villarreal can be assumed to be temporary, Schlereth can’t be recalled from the minor for a minimum of two weeks, unless he replaces an injured player. Villarreal has been working as a starter in Toledo since being demoted early in the season and he hasn’t been all that good with the ‘Hens. After a strong first few outings with the Tigers in April, Villarreal fell out of favor and was demoted fairly quickly.
The other, still un-talked-about aspect of the bullpen carousel is the fate of southpaw Brad Thomas. We had learned a couple of days back that Thomas was slated to pitch one inning on Tuesday in Toledo and was to have been re-evaluated at that time. He has already made six appearances with the Mud Hens and his last outing resulted in striking out the side in order on Monday. But Tuesday’s ‘Hens game came and went and Thomas didn’t make his scheduled appearance.
On Wednesday, he was recalled from his rehab assignment, but not activated from the DL. This usually only happens if a player on rehab suffers a setback or a new injury, and sure enough, Thomas came up with the same elbow stiffness that landed him on the DL in the first place. Trainer Kevin Rand said Thomas would be examined by Dr. Stephen Lemos, but sounded optimistic that the setback would be minor. By recalling his rehab assignment, the Tigers prevent the clock from running towards a decision. Players on rehab can spend up to 30 days on assignment, Thomas has about two weeks left.