4/26/2014 11:45 P.M. ET
Tigers call up Ortega to aid tired bullpen
By Patrick Donnelly / Special to MLB.com
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Tigers have leaned heavily on their relievers over the past week. After Friday's conga line from the bullpen, they decided to get a fresh arm on the roster.
On Saturday, the team recalled right-handed reliever Jose Ortega from Triple-A Toledo and optioned rookie righty Justin Miller to Toledo. Miller had posted a 1.69 ERA and 0.75 WHIP in four appearances this season, but he'd been used three times in the past five days, a symptom of a potential greater concern for Tigers manager Brad Ausmus.
In the last week, the Tigers' bullpen was called on 22 times and threw a combined 18 2/3 innings. On Friday, five relievers combined to cover the final four innings after starter Rick Porcello failed to record an out in the sixth inning against the Twins. Miller gave up a run and two hits, but he also allowed two inherited runners to score while getting two outs in the sixth inning.
Add it all up, and becomes evident the Tigers needed some new blood for the immediate future.
"We ran through so many arms. It wasn't anything that Justin did," Ausmus said. "It had nothing to do with how Justin pitched [Friday] night. He'd pitched well the previous two outings. It was just, we needed help in the bullpen."
Ortega, 25, has appeared in 13 games over the past two years for Detroit. This year, he's 1-1 with a 3.97 ERA and 1.50 WHIP in eight outings for Toledo. But those aren't the numbers that interest his new manager.
"He throws 95-97 [mph]," Ausmus said with a grin. "Big arm."
Ausmus also said he likes the fact that Ortega can throw multiple innings if needed. Ortega's plane landed in Minneapolis on Saturday morning and he should be available immediately.
Blister forces Anibal to 15-day DL
MINNEAPOLIS -- Tigers starting pitcher Anibal Sanchez left Saturday's 5-3 loss to the Twins in the third inning with a blister on his right middle finger. The team later announced Sanchez will be placed on the 15-day disabled list Sunday.
Sanchez cruised through the Minnesota lineup the first time through the order, issuing only a two-out walk to Josmil Pinto in the second inning. But while facing Twins second baseman Brian Dozier with two outs in the third, Sanchez called catcher Bryan Holaday to the mound.
They were soon joined by Tigers manager Brad Ausmus and trainer Kevin Rand. Ausmus soon motioned to the dugout and ordered reliever Jose Ortega to start warming up.
Ausmus said a flap of skin had torn off Sanchez's middle finger, and he knew as soon as he saw it that his day was done.
"It was just a feeling on the last out that I got," Sanchez said. "On the next pitch, I felt something right there and felt my skin moving. When I saw the blood on my finger, I tried to get [Dozier] out and get out of the inning, but no chance."
Sanchez, who entered the game 0-2 with a 3.54 ERA, no-hit the Twins for 8 1/3 innings at Comerica Park last May 24. He had a 2-0 lead on Saturday afternoon and appeared to be on his way to his first win of the year. Instead, he had to settle for a no-decision.
Ortega inherited a 3-2 count on Dozier, who took the next pitch for ball four. The walk was charged to Sanchez, but Dozier was subsequently retired trying to steal second base.
Veteran V-Mart sets example with hustle
MINNEAPOLIS -- On Friday night, Tigers designated hitter Victor Martinez provided a timely example of a sacred baseball adage: it doesn't cost anything to hustle.
Leading, 10-1, in the sixth inning, Martinez came to bat with Miguel Cabrera on first and nobody out. He hit a chopper to first baseman Joe Mauer, whose throw to second base retired Cabrera. But Martinez ran hard out of the box and beat the relay to pitcher Anthony Swarzak at first.
It might not have looked like much at the time, but a 35-year-old designated hitter with a history of knee problems busting his tail down the line in a 10-1 game on a chilly April night? That's not a common sight.
However, Tigers manager Brad Ausmus relayed a story on Saturday morning that illustrates why he's already come to expect that kind of hustle from his veteran leaders.
"The other day at home, probably three days ago, in about the seventh or eighth inning, I went down to go to the bathroom and Victor was down there," Ausmus recalled. "He goes, 'Did you see my first at-bat?' I said, 'Yeah, the fly ball to right?' He goes, 'Yeah. I wasn't hustling to first.'
"And I didn't notice it. I was watching the ball. I go, 'I didn't notice, Vic. I was watching the ball.' And he goes, 'Yeah. It won't happen again.' So that kind of tells you what Victor's mindset is."
• Ausmus said that two players who sustained minor injuries on Friday night reported no further trouble on Saturday. According to Ausmus, catcher Alex Avila said he could play if needed after being taken out of Friday's game in the fifth inning with a contusion on his left shin. Holaday replaced Avila on Friday, and he was in Saturday's starting lineup.
Meanwhile, pitcher Rick Porcello reported minor soreness on Saturday after taking a glancing blow off his pitching elbow Friday night.
"I don't expect it to be an issue going forward long-term, or even near-term," Ausmus said.
Patrick Donnelly is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.