DETROIT -- After three blowouts like the Tigers have suffered against the A's, somebody was going to have to make room for a fresh arm in the bullpen. It ended up being Jose Alvarez.
The left-handed starter turned reliever will be back when the Triple-A Toledo season ends on Monday, manager Jim Leyland said. But for now, Alvarez is optioned out to make room for Luke Putkonen, who hasn't pitched in a game since Sunday.
"It's for obvious reasons," Leyland said. "We're short a little in the bullpen."
It doesn't mean they're expecting to need extra arms when Max Scherzer takes the mound Thursday looking for his 20th win. But the Tigers weren't expecting the A's to rough up Anibal Sanchez, Justin Verlander or Doug Fister, either.
"We're not looking to have this situation," Leyland said, "but you never know."
It'll be the third stint with Detroit this season for Putkonen, who spent just over two months in the Tigers' bullpen before he was optioned July 30 to make room for Jose Veras. The 27-year-old has given up seven earned runs on 20 hits over 20 2/3 innings, walking seven and striking out 17.
Rondon OK after slipping on rain-slick mound
DETROIT -- Before rain washed out the final innings of the Tigers' loss to the A's on Tuesday, they nearly washed Bruce Rondon out of action. However, the hard-throwing setup man felt fine Wednesday and was available in the bullpen, according to manager Jim Leyland.
Rondon slipped on a rain-slick mound in the sixth inning Tuesday night. Though he seemed to grab at his leg when Leyland and head athletic trainer Kevin Rand came out from the dugout to check on him, Leyland said later the problem was actually his lower back.
"I saw where he slipped," Leyland said Tuesday night. "There was a skid mark. I thought it was his knee at first, but it was his lower back."
Rondon stayed in the game and finished out the at-bat before the umpires called for the tarp.
"He's OK," Leyland said Wednesday.
Dotel hit by comebacker, staying on rehab assignment
DETROIT -- Octavio Dotel's Minor League rehab assignment hit Triple-A Toledo this week, but his first pitch Tuesday hit back. A hard-hit comebacker off the bat of Indianapolis' Jerry Sands hit Dotel in the right leg, knocking him out of the game.
The organizational report indicated the injury isn't serious, Tigers manager Jim Leyland said.
"He got hit by a line drive, but he'll be all right," Leyland said.
The fact that the Tigers didn't pull him back from the rehab assignment was another sign that the injury shouldn't cost Dotel any time.
Tuesday was going to be the second of back-to-back outings for Dotel. Normally, that's the final step for a reliever on rehab before he's declared ready to be recalled. The Tigers have time to get him another set of back-to-back appearances. The Mud Hens' season doesn't end until Labor Day, and Dotel has enough days remaining on his rehab assignment to continue through the end if need be.
Dotel does not have to rejoin the Tigers by Sept. 1 to qualify for the postseason roster. Since he made the Opening Day roster and pitched the first few weeks of the season, he's already eligible.
Leyland fine with how umpires handled rain
DETROIT -- The Tigers have had their share of late-inning rallies lately. If not for the weather, they might have had a chance at another on Tuesday during a 6-3 loss to the A's. The way manager Jim Leyland looked at the decision to call Tuesday's game in the sixth, though, it could've been worse.
Though some fans were questioning crew chief Gary Darling's decision to play through a steady rain that began early in the game before finally calling for the tarp in the sixth, especially after Justin Verlander indicated he lost his grip on the changeup that Brandon Moss hit out for the go-ahead homer in the fifth, Leyland took the opposite approach.
"I thought the umps did a very commendable job," Leyland said Wednesday. "They gave both teams their shot. [The A's] took advantage of theirs, and we weren't able to. I thought they did a great job.
"Those are no-win situations, because that's one of those things where everybody else has got all the answers. People who are dealing with that have got the pressure of their decisions. You have to understand, too, with stuff like that, MLB is involved. It's not just an umpire saying, 'That's it.' It doesn't work that way."
Major League Baseball plays a role in weather-related decisions when a team is in town for the final time in a season. In Oakland's case, this week is the only time the A's are in Detroit this regular season. The game began on time under dry conditions, but a 45-minute opening inning gave plenty of time for a storm system to come in.
Had the game been called soon after the rain started, it would've had to be replayed in its entirety, likely Wednesday or Thursday. It didn't become an official game until the end of the fifth inning.
From there, the decision hinged on how long the conditions remained playable. Given the Tigers' injury situation, it was a concern for Leyland as well. He had a scare in the sixth when Bruce Rondon slipped on a slick mound, but it turned out not to be a serious injury.
He lost a game, but he didn't lose a player. Leyland described it as a Catch-22.
"It might have been a blessing in some ways that the game was called," Leyland said Tuesday night. "You've got Miguel Cabrera hurting. You're going to be on a slippery field. You've got guys that are playing all the time sitting up here and waiting a while in conditions that were really bad.
"It could've turned out to be a nightmare. However, in saying that, you always want to play the game, so I don't want to come off like I'm glad they called the game, because I'm not. But I understand it, and in the long run, it might have been a blessing that they called it."