Miller recalled, Collins sent down
The Tigers’ first transaction of the 2014 season is a depth move for a taxed and tried bullpen. Detroit recalled right-hander Justin Miller from Triple-A Toledo on Friday for the start of a three-game weekend series against the Angels.
To make room on the 25-man roster, the Tigers optioned rookie outfielder Tyler Collins to Toledo. For Friday, at least, the Tigers will go with eight relievers and three bench players, though not nearly all the relievers will be available. That’s the point of bringing up Miller.
Miller gives the Tigers a fresh arm for the bullpen after they used five relievers Thursday afternoon and four Wednesday night, all ahead of Drew Smyly’s first start of the season Friday night. Al Alburquerque, Ian Krol and Joba Chamberlain pitched in both games. The only reliever who didn’t pitch in either game was long man Luke Putkonen.
While neither manager Brad Ausmus nor pitching coach Jeff Jones had a pitch count set for Smyly when asked Thursday morning, both made it clear they’ll have to be cautious with him since he hasn’t been stretched out as a starter since the end of Spring Training nearly three weeks ago. He threw 51 pitches on April 4 and 49 pitches on April 9.
Miller would be making his Major League debut after signing with Detroit last fall following his release from the Rangers organization. The hard-throwing 25-year-old had a rough Spring Training, making him an early cut from camp, but has recovered nicely in Toledo. He has thrown 4 2/3 scoreless innings for the Hens on three hits with a walk and six strikeouts.
Collins made the Opening Day as a reserve outfielder, making the jump from Double-A Erie. He was intended to give Detroit a left-handed bat off the bench and a potential platoon partner with Rajai Davis in left field, but he made just three starts over the first 12 games of the season. The 23-year-old went 2-for-14 with a walk and three strikeouts.
By rule, Collins must stay in the minors at least 10 days before he’s eligible to be recalled, unless the Tigers have to place a player on the disabled list. So if Detroit wants to add a bench player back once its bullpen gets some rest, it’ll have to recall somebody else. Ezequiel Carrera could be a candidate, as could waiver pickup J.D. Martinez. Either would have to be added to the 40-man roster, but the Tigers have an open spot for that.