7/30/2013 7:18 P.M. ET
Coke turning the page on first-half troubles
By Jason Beck and Bobby Nightengale / MLB.com
DETROIT -- While the Tigers are hoping for consistency from the younger pitchers in their bullpen, they are also hoping left-handed reliever Phil Coke can regain his form from the 2012 playoffs.
Despite an 0-5 record and 5.46 ERA, Coke had thrown five consecutive scoreless outings spanning 3 2/3 innings entering play Tuesday. In that span, he struck out three while giving up two hits and no walks.
"It's hard to find someone that has better stuff than Phil Coke," president/general manager Dave Dombrowski said. "His stuff is really good. We know he can pitch in a pennant race, we've seen him do that and be very efficient. Hopefully the inconsistencies stop a little bit more, and I think everybody's talked about that."
While Coke has been facing mainly left-handed hitters since the All-Star break, he's thrived in the role, including throwing a scoreless ninth inning against the Phillies on Sunday.
"With all the frustrations I've experienced in the first half, it's over, it's done with," Coke said. "That was so yesterday, man. I just want the baseball when [manager Jim Leyland] decides to give me the baseball, and for him to get off the field so I can do my job."
Veras ready to fill whatever role Tigers need
DETROIT -- Eight years into his Major League career, Jose Veras is now a little more than halfway to Octavio Dotel's Major League record for franchises played for (13). He knows how to handle the challenge of changing clubhouses in midseason.
"I've handled it a little bit, because it's happened before," Veras said Tuesday. "And now that I'm here, I have to focus to keep doing my job. That's what I always think: No matter what uniform I've got on, I've got a job to do."
It's a different job than the one Veras had in Houston. After several years in middle relief, the Astros gave him his first chance at closing, and he handled it well. With the Tigers, he's back to his old role.
"We did not acquire him to be our closer, nor we did we acquire him to be our eighth-inning guy," team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski said, "because we feel comfortable with [Joaquin] Benoit and [Drew] Smyly."
That won't be an adjustment for Veras.
"I don't think about a spot. I don't mind," he said. "I just focus to get my job, to get my three [outs]. No matter what situation, I have to do what I have to do, take care of that part, and let the other guys take care of the rest. I was a setup man for five years, and then this was my first time as a closer. And then I came here and I said I'm available in any moment you need me."
The big adjustment might be the clubhouse. When Veras talked about his Astros teammates, he talked about it like a family, even though this was his only year there. He knows a handful of players in his new clubhouse. Ramon Santiago, for one, is his neighbor in the Dominican Republic. Nonetheless, it's a different situation.
"It's a lot of good guys out there, good young team, good young players," Veras said of the Astros. "I feel like shocked in the first second [learning about the trade], and then I said God takes care of that part. He put me in the position where he thinks it's best for me. He brought me here to a winning team. I've been blessed with that.
"I've been blessed because I like to compete, I like to do things for a team that maybe can get to the World Series. That's our dream. That's our goal as baseball players."
Infante feels 'good,' rehab stint on horizon
DETROIT -- Omar Infante was walking around the Tigers' clubhouse prior to Tuesday's game with a smile on his face. After his sprained left ankle forced him out of a rehab game at Triple-A Toledo on Thursday, Infante says it feels much better.
"I'm working on my ankle in the gym and making it stronger and moving [it]," Infante said. "I feel good."
Infante says that he ran on Monday before taking grounders and participating in batting practice on Tuesday.
"I would not be surprised if by the end of the weekend that he's out on injury rehab," president/general manager Dave Dombrowski said, "but it has lingered longer than we thought it would."
If all goes well with Infante's rehab, he may be able to rejoin the Tigers during the team's upcoming 10-game road trip beginning next Monday in Cleveland.
Bonderman looking good in Toledo bullpen
DETROIT -- With the Tigers' off-day on Monday, president/general manager Dave Dombrowski traveled to Triple-A Toledo with assistant Al Avila and pro scouting director Scott Bream. While they were there, Jeremy Bonderman continued to excel since signing a Minor League contract with the Tigers before the All-Star break.
Bonderman struck out two in two scoreless innings on Monday and now has allowed only one hit in seven innings pitching in relief for the Mud Hens.
According to the Detroit News, Bonderman suggested that he pitch out of the bullpen in order for a better opportunity to get back into the Major Leagues.
"We like what we have seen," Dombrowski said. "He's shown the ability that he can be a big league pitcher. We'll just have to wait and kind of sort out this time period and see what happens. He's done a good job for us."
Bonderman made seven starts with the Mariners this season, going 1-3 with a 4.93 ERA and 1.49 WHIP in 38 1/3 innings before being designated for assignment.
After making his Major League debut for the Tigers at 20 years old in 2003, Bonderman went 67-77 over 207 games (193 starts) for the Tigers from '03-'10.
Downs progressing through rehab program
DETROIT -- The Tigers may get an extra left-handed arm in the bullpen soon, and it won't be through a trade. Darin Downs is still progressing through tendinitis in his left shoulder that has sidelined him since July 7.
Downs has made two Minor League rehab appearances in the past week -- one for Class A West Michigan and the other for Triple-A Toledo. In those outings, Downs hasn't allowed a hit in two innings while striking out three.
Downs is expected to make another appearance for Toledo on Wednesday night. He will either throw two innings or until he reaches a specific pitch count. Downs says he doesn't know the plan following his upcoming rehab appearance, but he may pitch another outing at Toledo over the weekend.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. Bobby Nightengale is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.