First call-ups arrive, in person of Perez, Coke; Castellanos among reported Sunday adds
DETROIT — The Tigers made their first September call-ups a day before the rosters officially expand, bringing infielder Hernan Perez and left-handed reliever Phil Coke back from Toledo to join the big-league club.
To make room, the Tigers optioned right-handed relievers Jeremy Bonderman to Triple-A Toledo and Luke Putkonen to Single-A Lakeland. Both will be recalled to the Tigers upon the conclusion of the the minor league seasons.
“As you’re aware, Aug. 31 is the time at which your potential playoff roster being set by midnight. We don’t anticipate any other moves today,” general manager Dave Dombrowski said, acknowledging there will be more call-ups made Sunday and beyond.
“Yes, we will. We’ll let you know those tomorrow. They do not know yet. ... We pondered a lot of different things and a lot of different situations. I wouldn’t get into specific players. But we think that this is … if we were to say today would be a likely roster, but we still have some flexibility in what we do due to (Luis) Marte being on the disabled list for sure and also potentially (Octavio) Dotel being on the disabled list. So we do have some flexibility there.”
[UPDATE: John Wagner of the Toledo Blade reported that Nick Castellanos, Danny Worth and Evan Reed will join the Tigers on Sunday.]
The early call-up ensures that, without having do to any roster maneuvering, both Coke and Perez will be eligible for any potential playoff roster, should the Tigers make it to the postseason. Anyone on the active roster as of midnight on Aug. 31 is automatically eligible.
There are also exceptions for anyone in the organization, allowing them to be substituted in for anyone on the disabled list as of midnight on Aug. 31. That’s where Marte and Dotel come in.
“Some people, knock on wood, have more people on the disabled list, so they automatically have more flexibility,” Dombrowski said. “We’ve been in that position in the past, also. This year, we haven’t been.”
The Tigers had anticipated that Dotel might be headed back for the stretch drive, but his rehabilitation assignment hit a snag recently. John Wagner of the Toledo Blade reported that Dotel was headed back to Detroit to see doctors here.
“I do not know, because we did, and then yesterday he had some problem with his forearm, and so I’m not really sure where that stands as we talk right now,” Dombrowski said. “We’re still visiting on that situation. If he was healthy, he would have been with us as of Sept. 1, but right now I do not know where that stands.”
Potentially, the Tigers could have an extra slot, if they had decided to promote Toledo starter Casey Crosby — who hasn’t pitched since June — and put him on the big-league DL. “Could we? Yes, we could,” Dombrowski said. “But we’re not.”
Coke was one of the players the Tigers had sent down in recent weeks, with the caveat they’d be back in September. With him, it was a matter of getting a handle on his control a bit.
“Coke went down there, and threw well, which does not surprise us, because his velocity’s been good here. He kept the ball down better there, which is one thing we wanted him to work on,” Dombrowski said. “Part of his problem has been the command aspect of it, and he did a better job of that at Triple-A. Hopefully, he can continue.”
The others who were promised return trips included catcher Bryan Holaday and lefty Jose Alvarez, both of whom are expected back at the conclusion of the Triple-A season. Bonderman — who had to be sent do Toledo, due to a contract technicality — will join them. Putkonen will return a day earlier, after Lakeland’s season ends.
Perez hadn’t been mentioned as a definite to return, but he was certainly no surprise, having spent 21 games with the Tigers, and has hit .301 between Toledo and Double-A Erie this season, swiping 28 bases.
“One thing it does for us, is it gives us some flexibility of someone who can run. And he’s been here before this year, so he’s got some comfort zone. But he runs well. He’s not a burner, but he allows Jim (Leyland) to use him as a pinch runner, with the flexibility of position. He can play second, play short. Move some other people around,” Dombrowski said.
“But he does give us some speed.”