Farmer, Hicks will be Tigers’ first September call-ups

The first round of Tigers call-ups for expanded September rosters will be a small one. Buck Farmer will rejoin the team to bolster Detroit’s pitching depth, while John Hicks makes his Tigers debut to serve as an extra catcher.

Both callups are expected to take place Friday, when the Tigers open a three-game series against the Royals in Kansas City. Other moves will come after Triple-A Toledo finishes out its season next Monday.

While the Tigers have had varying levels of September reinforcements over the years, two constants have been an extra catcher and bullpen depth. The immediate moves serve those purposes.

Farmer will be up with the big club for the sixth time this season. With all those trips up and down Interstate 75, the 25-year-old right-hander has appeared in 10 games, allowing seven runs on 13 hits over 16 innings with nine walks and 15 strikeouts. Though Farmer has been strictly a reliever with the Tigers, he has been strictly a starter with the Mud Hens, posting a 5-6 record and 3.96 ERA in 20 starts.

Hicks’ first call-up with the Tigers will be his second Major League stint, having served as a backup catcher with the Mariners last year from the end of August through season’s end. He was in the Twins system to open the season until the Tigers claimed him off waivers April 23 to fill Bobby Wilson’s old role as insurance catcher.

The Tigers haven’t needed Hick’s services, but the former University of Virginia backstop has quietly enjoyed a solid summer in Toledo, batting .303 (73-for-241) with 20 doubles, eight homers and 42 RBIs in 70 games as a Hen. He has thrown out 24-of-61 would-be basestealers.

A third catcher on a roster comes in handy as insurance on days like Wednesday, when the Tigers had James McCann behind the plate and Jarrod Saltalamacchia starting at first base. If Cabrera’s ankle flares up again down the stretch, the Tigers can play Saltalamacchia at first without having to worry about shifting players around if Brad Ausmus wants to pinch-hit for McCann — or if there’s an injury.

Other Mud Hens likely to be called up include shortstop Dixon Machado alongside recently-demoted Matt Boyd and Casey McGehee, who can return as soon as Toledo’s season ends rather than wait the requisite 10 days. Still to be decided is the case of hard-throwing closer prospect Joe Jimenez and slugging outfielder Steven Moya. Reliever Warwick Saupold could face a different debate, given his arrest Sunday morning on an assault charge following a bar fight in Toledo; he’s due in court Sept. 13.

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