Sizemore, Scherzer to Toledo; Worth coming up
The first Saturday night fireworks of the season at Comerica Park weren’t just on the field. After the Tigers’ comeback win over the Red Sox, they made three key changes to their roster, optioning starting second baseman Scott Sizemore and key starting pitcher Max Scherzer to Triple-A Toledo and anointing Carlos Guillen as the new starter at second when he returns from the disabled list.
Armando Galarraga, who was already being recalled from Toledo to start Sunday’s series finale against Boston, will stay in the rotation. To replace Sizemore, the Tigers purchased the contract of infielder Danny Worth, who could make his Major League debut as soon as Sunday at second base.
Manager Jim Leyland said he’ll fill second base with some combination of Ramon Santiago, Worth and utilityman Don Kelly until Guillen is ready. Guillen, currently on the 15-day DL with a strained left hamstring, has been taking ground balls the past couple days and is expected to begin a rehab assignment sometime next week after the Tigers’ current homestand ends Tuesday.
The moves and announcements came just before midnight after Detroit’s 12-inning victory, and they came in a flurry.
The Tigers tabbed Scherzer to fill the void in the middle of their rotation immediately upon acquiring the gifted 25-year-old from Arizona in the Edwin Jackson trade last December. After four encouraging April starts, however, he fell into a deep four-start struggle that saw him battle his mechanics moreso than hitters.
Scherzer gave up 27 runs on 33 hits over 18 innings in his last four starts, the last three of them losses. The capper came Friday night, when he surrendered three home runs — including a 450-foot drive from David Ortiz — tagged him with six runs on six hits over five innings.
Scherzer has given up nine home runs this season, tying him for second in the American League entering Saturday.
Scherzer would’ve been on track to start next Thursday at Oakland. Instead, the Tigers will likely slot Dontrelle Willis into that outing, pitching him in his hometown. Galarraga can then start Friday against the Dodgers on his regular turn after starting Sunday.
Galarraga has boasted impressive numbers in Toledo, owning a 4-2 record with a 3.92 ERA. With a strike-to-ball ratio of better than 2-to-1, his command seems to have improved since last season with the Tigers, where he posted a 6-10 record in 25 starts before being relegated to bullpen duties.
The 25-year-old Sizemore has struggled for the vast majority of this season to date, but has fallen on particularly tough times lately. His two strikeouts against Red Sox lefty Jon Lester Saturday night extended his current slump to 0-for-14 and dropped his average to .206. He hit one home run and added eight RBIs, part of the struggles at the bottom of the Tigers order.
The telling sign came Saturday night, when manager Jim Leyland used Ramon Santiago to pinch-hit for Sizemore in the eighth inning of a tie game with Red Sox left-hander Hideki Okajima and the potential go-ahead run on third with one out. Santiago lined out to third and stayed in the game at second base before drawing the walkoff walk to drive in the winning run in the 12th.
The 24-year-old Worth was once among the Tigers’ shortstop prospects, having been drafted in the second round of the 2007 Draft out of Pepperdine. He largely struggled as a hitter in his first three seasons, but has proven valuable around the infield this year at Toledo, where he entered Saturday batting .274 with five doubles, two homers and 14 RBIs. He has played at shortstop, second and third.