Octavio Dotel '99.9 percent' likely to be shut down by Tigers
DETROIT — Last year, the running joke between Octavio Dotel and Gerald Laird — both free agents signed from the defending champion St. Louis Cardinal team, which had won the World Series a year earlier — was that they couldn’t remember what it was like to lose their final game of the season.
And then they did.
Laird left after last season’s World Series disappointment with the Detroit Tigers to pursue more playing time.
Dotel returned to Detroit, hoping to get another chance to not lose his final game of the season.
Instead, that fate may already be sealed.
It appears Dotel, who left his final regular-season game with the Tigers (an 8-1 loss to the Angels on April 19) having given up five earned runs, will not get a chance to win any more games in Detroit.
Manager Jim Leyland said Sunday that Dotel, who has missed all of the season with elbow inflammation, would be shut down after experiencing forearm tightness in his last rehab start with Triple-A Toledo.
“Not good. Not good. Forearm stiffness. It appears like he’ll be shut down. That’s 99.9 percent,” Leyland said.
Dotel has been throwing for several weeks, trying to climb the ladder from the lower levels of the minors, to Triple-A before possibly joining the Tigers before another potential playoff run.
He just didn’t feel like he was ready to compete at this level. ... I think what happened was, he tried to step it up a little when he went to a higher level, and he got the forearm tightness again,” Leyland said. “Kevin (Rand, the Tigers trainer) had a conversation with him, and they were both in total agreement.
“When he went up to Toledo, he tried to get a little more (velocity). And he did get a little more, actually. But the forearm ... just tightened right up.”
The decision took away another veteran arm who might have been valuable on a potential playoff roster to get right-handed hitters out.
But it doesn’t mean that Dotel won’t serve a purpose for the Tigers.
His disabled list slot can be used as an exception to add to a potential playoff roster anyone who was in the organization but not on the active roster — like Nick Castellanos, Luke Putkonen, Jeremy Bonderman or Jose Alvarez — as of midnight Saturday.
While the news that the 39-year-old Dotel — who Leyland said in June was trying to see “if he still has it” — worked futilely all season long to return to the Tigers might be disappointing, it’s not heart-breaking. At least not to Leyland.
“Not really. Do I feel bad, and terrible? Yes I do. But he’s also got 15 years in the big leagues. He’s had a great career. It’s not like telling some kid in A-ball ‘You’re never going to get a chance.’ That’s my point,” Leyland said.
“When I told guys in A-ball, when I was a minor league manager, ‘Hey, kid. You need to go do something else.’ That breaks your heart. And theirs.”