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A sometimes-irreverent look at Detroit's Boys of Summer, the Tigers, as they try to return to the top of the American League Central.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Tigers add another familiar face as pitching depth, signing Jurrjens to minor-league deal

All along, the thing that worried Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland the most heading into the 2013 season was pitching depth.

After his six starters vying for five rotation spots in spring training, there wasn’t a whole lot of inventory left in the upper levels of the organization, after years of wheeling and dealing it away to bolster the big-league club.

To that end, the Tigers brought back a guy they once traded away, signing former phenom Jair Jurrjens to a minor-league deal on Wednesday, and shipping him to Toledo to bolster the Mud Hens’ rotation.

Signed by the Tigers as an undrafted free agent in 2003, Jurrjens debuted with the big-league club in 2007, going 3-1 in seven starts as a rookie. In the offseason, he was traded to Atlanta, along with Gorkys Hernandez, in return for shortstop Edgar Renteria.

He’d go on to finish third in the National League Rookie of the Year voting in 2008, and earn an All-Star nod in 2011, after leading the National League in wins and ERA at the break, but his career was ultimately derailed by a 2009 knee injury.

Jurrjens started 118 games in five seasons with the Braves, including a National League-high 34 in 2009, but was limited to 20, 23 and 10 starts the last three injury-plagued seasons, trying to recover from the 2009 surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee.

He started one game for the Orioles this season, but was designated for assignment on July 12.

While it may be questionable whether or not Jurrjens will ever recapture his pre-injury promise, he is just 27 years old.

And the Tigers need anybody with a live arm at Toledo these days.

Twelve different pitchers have started games for the Mud Hens this season, but three of those — Casey Crosby (13 starts), Shawn Hill (19 starts) and Pat Misch (13 starts) — are on the disabled list. Two more, Duane Below (4 starts) and Derek Hankins (14 starts), are no longer with the organization, while Luke Putkonen (1 start) is currently in the big-league bullpen.

The Tigers signed former big-league starter Jeremy Bonderman to a similar minor-league deal before the All-Star break, but he’s pitched out of the bullpen so far.


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