April 28th, 2014

Chad Smith promoted to Toledo, Tigers bullpen likely set for now

The wild weekend for the Tigers pitching staff at Minnesota — first calling up Jose Ortega for Justin Miller, then recalling Miller to fill Anibal Sanchez’s old spot — had left the pitching staff at Triple-A Toledo one reliever short, and left speculation running that the Tigers could have another move coming to help out the Major League bullpen. That void at Toledo was filled Monday with the promotion of right-hander Chad Smith from Double-A Erie. That restored the Hens roster to full strength and likely means the Tigers is bullpen — with both Miller and Ortega — is set, at least for the upcoming two-game series against the White Sox.

One reliever will have to be sent down next week to make room for a fifth starter, which the Tigers will need no later than May 6.

While the presence of Tigers assistant GM Al Avila and special assistant Jim Leyland in Erie over the weekend led to a watch on SeaWolves closer Corey Knebel for a potential promotion to Detroit, no move appears to be imminent.

The 24-year-old Smith recovered from a rough opening outing to toss 10 1/3 innings of one-run ball, allowing four walks and six hits with nine strikeouts. Opponents are batting just under .200 (9-for-46) against him, though four of those hits have come with runners in scoring position.

The Tigers drafted Smith out of USC in the 17th round of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft.