Notes: Durbin takes move in stride
Right-hander sent back to bullpen after 14 starts
ATLANTA -- Chad Durbin is right back where he started, even if it feels like eons since he's been there.
Durbin made the Tigers' pitching staff out of Spring Training three months ago as a reliever, only to move into the rotation when Kenny Rogers underwent arterial bypass surgery on his throwing shoulder. Now that Rogers is back, so is Durbin, back in relief.
After 14 starts, however, he has made a bigger name for himself as a pitcher than he had coming in, at least in Detroit.
"I think there's maybe some different type of value to who I am comparatively to March or April," Durbin said Saturday afternoon. "It depends on how the relieving goes, but I feel like I'm going to do the best I can. And if this organization or somebody else sees that I can do both [starting and relieving], it's valuable."
When manager Jim Leyland announced his rotation Friday and moved Durbin to the bullpen, he cautioned that Durbin hadn't done anything to pitch his way out of a starting job. If anything, Leyland pointed to Durbin as an example of where hard work and success in the Minor Leagues can lead, considering Durbin spent almost the entire 2006 season at Triple-A Toledo and worked his way into the pitching mix in Detroit.
"I think he did fine," Leyland said, "and I think the organization did good. I really believe in stuff like that. I think Chad responded to the opportunity, and I think that if people are smart, and if they're looking, this guy had a good year at Triple-A and got rewarded, and he responded to the opportunity. And I think when it works like that, it's a thing of beauty."
The way Durbin is treating the move, moreover, is neither a tragedy nor a comedy. He's taking it in relative stride.
"The initial thing is to just be a professional about it," Durbin said. "That's what I came into the year thinking my position would probably be if I made the team. This staff is solidified with Kenny in it, and it's a better staff with Kenny in it. It's a better staff with Nate [Robertson] throwing well. So you go with the guys who have the track record of getting you to the World Series, and I go out to the 'pen and try to do the best I can out there."
He does not expect that to be a big adjustment. He has to take parts of his starting experience into his relief role, especially in long relief, but he also has to be cognizant of how hitters reacted against previous pitchers when he enters a game out of the bullpen.
Robertson ready: Robertson felt fine Saturday afternoon after throwing a scheduled side session, his last test before rejoining the rotation Tuesday against Texas.
Robertston still isn't sure why he feels so much better now. And he's not sure why his slider and two-seamer have so much more movement than they did before he went on the DL with a tired arm, but he's glad they do.
"I don't feel like I'm doing anything different mechanically," Robertson said. "When I go and I throw sides, my sides into the game, I can only go by what others see and how I feel. And like I said, how I feel wasn't any different. But apparently the condition of my arm, maybe just that extra little rest, I was able to get through pitches a little bit better.
"When they diagnose [a] tired arm, that's one of the things they talk about, that your ball just really isn't doing much. It's just flat. And if you push it too far, it can lead to an injury that you can't necessarily recover from [quickly]."
Robertson will start on short rest Tuesday, four days after his six hitless innings in a rehab performance last Thursday for Double-A Erie. He fell three outs shy of a complete-game no-hitter, since Minor League doubleheader games last seven innings instead of nine. It's probably a good thing he didn't remember that, because if he had, he admitted he would've pushed for it.
Leaving Ledezma: As strange as it was for Macay McBride to change teams by changing clubhouses Friday at Turner Field, imagine the feeling of Wilfredo Ledezma. He flew to Atlanta with the Tigers while technically a member of the Braves, having been dealt on the Tigers' final day in Washington. Two nights later, he made his Atlanta debut against his old teammates, striking out the Tigers in order in the ninth.
"It was weird," he admitted.
Like Mike Maroth, who was traded to St. Louis on Friday, Ledezma was around for the Tigers' low point in 2003. In his case, he was a 22-year-old Rule 5 Draft pick who hadn't pitched above Class A ball before that. He progressed enough that he was a key member of the club's success, pitching two games in the World Series last October.
Given that, it was a difficult deal for him.
"It's emotional," he said, "but these things happen. There's nothing we can do. We just need to keep going and do the things we can do."
More on Maroth: While Maroth was packing his gear, talking with reporters and saying goodbye to teammates in the Tigers clubhouse Friday, Robertson watched and paid attention. The way Maroth conducted himself left an impression.
"He kept his head high," said Robertson, Maroth's teammate since 2003. "You think about his whole career in the big leagues being here. I just watched him and I really admired the way he went about everything, and I told him that. You can never question one thing about him, and that was his character. I peeked through the door here as he was packing up his things, and it was a strange feeling, seeing him walking out of the Tiger locker room for the last time.
"He's got my respect, the way he's always handled himself. I'm proud of him."
Coming up: The Tigers finish Interleague Play under the lights of national television with an 8:05 p.m. ET game against the Braves at Turner Field on Sunday. Andrew Miller (2-1, 3.63) will start opposite fellow lefty Chuck James (6-6, 4.11).
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.