Ortega optioned, Lennerton outrighted
If you were expecting a major move from the Tigers to make room for Robbie Ray, it wasn’t going to happen.
Jose Ortega hadn’t pitched in a game since the Tigers’ last loss. That was a week and a half ago, when he walked four of the nine Minnesota Twins he faced and hit one of the other five. He had been rumored to be headed back to Triple-A Toledo immediately after that outing, until Anibal Sanchez landed on the 15-day DL.
Thus, when it came time for the Tigers to send down a reliever to make room for Ray, Ortega was the choice to create a spot on the 25-man roster.
As for fitting Ray on the 40-man roster, the Tigers used the opportunity to get Jordan Lennerton through waivers while he was off to a miserable start at Triple-A Toledo and outright his contract to the Mud Hens. It comes less than three months after he was experiencing the thrill of his first Major League camp at age 27.
He made an impression in camp, though he was one of the earlier roster moves. He has struggled ever since, batting .165 (15-for-91) with two doubles, a home run and six RBIs. His on-base percentage and OPS are boosted by 23 walks, but he has also struck out 28 times.
Though speculation around town centered on Phil Coke, that wasn’t happening. Beyond weighing Coke’s potential against Ortega, such a move would have required the Tigers to weigh the downside of having only one left-handed reliever amidst a stretch in which the Tigers face key left-handed hitters on the Twins this weekend (Joe Mauer, Jason Kubel), the Orioles next week (Nick Markakis, though probably not Chris Davis) and the Red Sox next weekend (David Ortiz, Mike Carp, A.J. Pierzynski). That’s not to say Coke would be the primary option, but it means there’s a value to two left-handers, even when one is struggling. If Coke were to be dropped, it would appear more likely to involve bringing another lefty reliever up, not make room for a right-hander or a starter.