Results tagged ‘ Brad Thomas ’
The Tigers cleared space on their 40-man roster and added to their free-agent list on Monday by outrighting the contracts of catcher Omir Santos and reliever Brad Thomas to Triple-A Toledo.
The procedural move essentially makes Toledo a stopover for them. They’ll become minor-league free agents later in the week, free to talk with any Major League team. While the Tigers could re-sign either of them, notably Santos, they’ll likely search for better opportunities elsewhere.
Santos essentially served his purpose as an insurance catcher, spending nearly the entire season at Toledo until he became Alex Avila’s backup down the stretch with Victor Martinez limited by a sprained knee. Santos appeared in 11 games as a Tiger, including single-game appearances in April and August, going 5-for-22 at the plate while throwing out one out of six would-be basestealers. He hit .245 with two homers and 16 RBIs in 49 games for the Mud Hens.
The Tigers are still expected to pursue a catcher to back up Avila and limit the wear and tear on Martinez’s knees to his duties as Detroit’s designated hitter. Though Santos could be that guy, Detroit might also look to somebody more established.
While Santos was a minor-league signing last winter, Thomas was a holdover from 2010, when the native Aussie came back to the big leagues to become the second lefty in Detroit’s bullpen as well as a two-time spot starter. He had none of that success this year, due mainly to injuries in his forearm and elbow that left him on the disabled list all summer.
Thomas, who turned 34 earlier this month, gave up 11 earned runs on 17 hits over 11 innings before forearm pain warming up in the bullpen in mid-May led to a DL stint. He spent close to a month on a rehab assignment in Toledo, giving up four runs on 10 hits over 10 1/3 innings with the Hens, when the Tigers tried to activate him and designate him for assignment.
Thomas complained of elbow trouble and requested a second opinion. Once the diagnosis came back, the roster move was rescinded, and Thomas spent the rest of the year on the disabled list.
Thomas would have been eligible for arbitration had the Tigers held onto him. Instead, he’ll likely look for another Minor League deal in the U.S. or head back to the Far East for another stint in Japan or Korea, where he spent time near the end of the last decade before the Tigers signed him after the 2009 season.
In a move you could see coming, the Tigers closed out Brad Thomas’ rehab assignment at Triple-A Toledo and outrighted his contract there, taking the lefty reliever off the 40-man roster.
Thomas has enough service time that he can decline the assignment and become a free agent if he wants, and he has 72 hours to do so. If he does that, however, he forfeits the rest of his Major League contract with Detroit (he signed for a reported $800,000, so he has just under $400,000 coming to him). He’d be taking a chance he can get a better deal somewhere else. He could pitch in Japan or Korea, closer to his home in Australia, but it’s pretty late in the season over there to find a deal.
Tuesday marked the two-week point in Brad Thomas’ rehab assignment with Triple-A Toledo. He has six appearances out of the Mud Hens bullpen, including three two-inning stints, and is expected to get his first crack at pitching back-to-back days on Tuesday. Yet there has been no talk about when Thomas might be activated from the disabled list and brought back into a Tigers bullpen that currently has three left-handers.
If you’re wondering at this point whether Thomas is headed back to the Tigers bullpen at all, you wouldn’t be the only one.
Speculation from those watching the Tigers has centered on Detroit potentially trying to find a landing spot for Thomas somewhere else, and easing their sudden lefty logjam. FOXSports.com’s Jon Paul Morosi cites a Major League source saying the Tigers “gauging trade interest” in Thomas and willing to move him. Even if they can’t deal him somewhere, they could still end up moving on without him.
It didn’t seem like a strong option when Thomas went on the disabled list a month ago with elbow inflammation, his elbow having locked up when he tried to warm up in the bullpen during a game. But high-strikeout starting prospect Charlie Furbush, who was called up to fill Thomas’ spot, has more than held his own, allowing six runs on 18 hits over 19 2/3 innings with 16 strikeouts. He has progressed from long relief and mop-up work to some late-inning lefty specialist situations. Add in veteran David Purcey and curveballer Daniel Schlereth, and the Tigers like their look from the left side right now, and manager Jim Leyland doesn’t want to go back to four lefty relievers.
Thomas got off to a rough start before his DL stint, allowing 11 earned runs on 17 hits over 11 innings. Left-handed hitters went 8-for-20 (.400) with three walks and three doubles against him, compared with 9-for-24 (.375) from right-handed batters. Thomas has said his elbow had been bothering him earlier, so it could have had an impact. By comparison, lefty hitters batted .252 (29-for-115) against Thomas last year, his first full season in the Majors. But he was more long reliever than LOOGY in 2010.
Pitchers can stay on rehab assignments for up to 30 days, so the Tigers conceivably could keep Thomas in Toledo for a couple more weeks and buy time to work out something. But Thomas is out of Minor League options, so they’d have to clear him through waivers and outright him if they wanted to keep him in Toledo beyond that. For now, Thomas was expected to pitch Tuesday for the Hens and be re-evaluated from there.
Charlie Furbush’s rapid rise through the Tigers farm system has landed him his first shot in the big leagues. The Tigers called up the deceptive left-hander from Triple-A Toledo on Saturday morning to take the place of lefty reliever Brad Thomas, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list with left elbow inflammation.
Furbush makes the trip from Toledo presumably to fill Thomas’ bullpen spot, and some have projected him as an eventual strikeout lefty in the Majors. But his numbers at Toledo this year, and at three different levels last year, came as a starter with multiple out pitches. After ranking second among all Minor League pitchers last year with 183 strikeouts over 159 innings, the 25-year-old southpaw leads the International League with 55 strikeouts over 46 1/3 innings this season with the Mud Hens.
Just as impressive, and a big step in his development, he has managed to largely hold down hitters even when they put the ball in play. His 4-3 record over eight starts belies a 2.91 ERA, which kept him in some low-scoring affairs. Two of his starts were one-hit performances over seven and eight innings, the latter coming in defeat against Charlotte on the same day Justin Verlander pitched his no-hitter at Toronto.
The numbers and the pitching made Furbush one of the primary prospects to watch in Toledo alongside fellow lefty Andy Oliver, while another southpaw, Duane Below, has pitched himself into the conversation. Speculation had been building for Furbush and Oliver to get their shot shortly if they kept up this stingy pitching.
Furbush’s opportunity came from injury with Thomas, whose left elbow locked up on him Friday and left him unavailable for the series opener here against the Pirates. Thomas was scheduled to be checked out Saturday morning, but the Tigers couldn’t wait long without a roster move. His absence for any stretch would’ve left Daniel Schlereth as the lone left-hander in Detroit’s bullpen.
While there was talk out of Spring Training about the Tigers possibly getting by with one lefty, that depended on having an effective Joaquin Benoit pitching the eighth inning and a healthy Joel Zumaya fastball for the seventh. Neither of those have happened so far, though Benoit looked more like last year’s form in a mop-up inning Friday night.
And you thought the Tigers bullpen lost its character when Phil Coke became a starter.
Daniel Schlereth is out there, and as it turns out, he’s a character. So is Brad Thomas, and so, apparently, is Brayan Villarreal.
Schlereth announced today that he wants to be known by his nickname, the Alaskan Assassin. He was born in Anchorage, so that makes sense. He also has been nicknamed the Baby Black Bear.
I told him that could be quite a tandem, the Alaskan Assassin and Agent P, otherwise known as Ryan Perry, or the Platypus. But Perry has earned a new nickname in the Tigers bullpen. After his DL stint with an eye infection, he’s now known as Cyclops.
On down the line it went. Brayan Villarreal? He’s known as Zorro, Schlereth said, because of the hair.
Al Alburquerque? Schlereth didn’t have one for him, but Villarreal said he’s known as Avatar, after the characters from the movie.
Jose Valverde? They don’t really need a nickname, or at least they don’t dare put one of him. But when Big Potato was mentioned, Valverde nodded in approval.
Brad Thomas? Nothing. They just make fun of the Aussie accent.
Joaquin Benoit? Nothing yet.
Offbeat? You bet. But look at it this way: It sure beats those mohawk haircuts Tigers relievers had last year around this time.
The Tigers’ first DL move of the regular season wasn’t anything expected. Detroit placed Ryan Perry on the 15-day DL on Thursday, retroactive to Tuesday, with an infected eye. Robbie Weinhardt, one of the last cuts of Spring Training, has been recalled from Triple-A Toledo to take his place.
Weinhardt was already in Toledo for the Mud Hens season opener. He’ll be in Baltimore for tonight’s series finale against the Orioles.
What that means for the Tigers’ seventh-inning relief options might take a little longer to sort out. Manager Jim Leyland had Phil Coke available for the first four games, but he’s now back in starter mode ahead of his turn in the rotation Saturday against the Royals.
Weinhardt could be an option, as could left-handers Daniel Schlereth and Brad Thomas. As Leyland said a couple days ago, somebody needs to step up. The only difference now is that Perry isn’t an option for a couple weeks.
Bobby Seay had a setback in his bullpen session Saturday morning and will have another MRI exam on his ailing left shoulder.
said he will have the exam in the next couple days was expected to have the exam Saturday and have the results checked out by a few specialists, including orthopaedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews. Seay had an MRI last month after he was first shut down from throwing, but results showed no structural damage.
Manager Jim Leyland said Saturday it’s a certainty that Seay will begin the season on the disabled list.
The news was somewhat better on fellow Tigers reliever Zach Miner, whose MRI results came back negative. He has been diagnosed with a muscle strain around his elbow and hopes rest and treatment will allow him to start throwing again in the coming days.
Miner is still hopeful he can be ready for Opening Day. Leyland indicated he isn’t sure.
Seay was originally diagnosed with bursitis in his upper left arm and tendinitis in the shoulder. He had started throwing last week and began throwing off a mound earlier in the week. His latest attempt, though, stopped before it started.
“Throwing in the bullpen today, I couldn’t get my arm in a throwing position,” Seay said.
That was the indication that it was time for another look in the elbow. His next exam will include a dye injection in the elbow to give a more detailed view.
Seay just wants to know. He’s been dealing with discomfort since he started his throwing program in January, and he wants to get it healthy rather than make it worse.
“At this point, I’m just fed up with the pain associated with trying to get loose and feelings in my arm I shouldn’t be having,” he said. “Whether it’s major or minor, I have to get some peace of mind to know what’s going on.”
With Seay out, the Tigers go from having a potential surplus of left-handed relievers to trying to fill in without their veteran lefty specialist. Phil Coke is all but certain to be part of the group, having been taken out of consideration for a starting role a couple weeks ago. Sidearmer Fu-Te Ni was a valuable reliever down the stretch last year after a midseason call-up. Offseason signing Brad Thomas has had success this spring. Daniel Schlereth is a valuable relief prospect after coming over from Arizona in the Edwin Jackson trade, but he has had his share of spring struggles.