8/23/2014 1:15 P.M. ET
Tigers searching for answers to Krol's problems
By Jason Beck / MLB.com
MINNEAPOLIS -- A little over two months ago, Ian Krol was looking like the Tigers' answer in lefty relief. He was also among the American League leaders in games pitched, in what was shaping up to be his first full big league season.
Krol was optioned to Triple-A Toledo on Friday for the second time in four weeks to work out his struggles. And the Tigers, whose trade for Krol and Robbie Ray is drawing more scrutiny with each turn by Doug Fister in the Nationals' rotation, are trying to figure out what's going on with Krol.
Ray, also optioned to Toledo on Friday after a six-run second inning, was the prized prospect in the deal. But Krol was intended to be an integral piece in the bullpen. The Krol that the Tigers saw dominate hitters in Spring Training was that guy. The version they've seen lately was not.
"He's kind of Jekyll and Hyde," manager Brad Ausmus said. "Sometimes he comes out there and [looks] real good, he's got really good arm speed, he's throwing 93-94 miles an hour and the ball gets on the hitters.
"And then sometimes, like [Friday] night, the arm speed's not there. It looks like he's guiding the ball and trying to throw strikes. We talked to him about it ... he said he's not. Maybe it's a mechanical issue."
Whether the struggles have any carryover from his mid-June stint on the disabled list with shoulder fatigue is another question Ausmus is asking.
"When he came back, there were times where the ball didn't seem to be jumping out of his hand like it does when he's right," Ausmus said. "We sent him down [before], and when he came back he looked good. I can't really explain it. It hasn't really been a pattern.
"Since he's come back, he certainly hasn't been overused -- so I don't think it was that. Whatever it is, he understands that he's got to fix it."
Romine gets back to work after relief outing
MINNEAPOLIS -- The first question Andrew Romine received on his way through the Tigers clubhouse on Saturday morning was about whether he needed ice for his shoulder. He chuckled.
"Oh, you know," he said when asked how his arm was feeling after his relief work during Friday's 20-6 loss to the Twins.
Romine was in the starting lineup for the first game of Saturday's doubleheader with the Twins at shortstop. He threw 27 pitches just over 13 hours earlier, enough that manager Brad Ausmus said he was basically on his last hitter when he induced a hard lineout from Danny Santana for the last out of the eighth.
"He was probably a hitter away from going back to second [base] and [Bryan] Holaday pitching," Ausmus said on Saturday morning.
It wasn't a matter of Romine being on a pitch count. It was Ausmus worrying about an arm injury if he had a position player -- someone not accustomed to pitching -- throw more than 30 pitches.
"You're asking a guy to pick up the team, which he did," Ausmus said. "But if something happens to him there, you feel awful about it. ... I can't keep Romine out there for 30-something pitches."
As odd as that sounds, the other options bordered on the bizarre.
Holaday caught all 214 pitches the Tigers threw Friday night, but was an option to pitch the eighth. He also nearly moved to second base once Romine entered to pitch, but Ausmus chose to put Alex Avila at first base and move Don Kelly to second instead.
"Holaday, Kelly and Romine were all in the discussion [to pitch]," Ausmus said. "In my mind, [Holaday] had thrown a bunch, just being a catcher and throwing it back [to the pitcher]."
Holaday caught 187 pitches over the first seven innings. Considering the Twins had 16 of their 20 hits for the game by then, he did not throw quite that many balls back.
As for Kelly, who pitched in a game for the Tigers in 2011, Ausmus said he has been getting his shoulder treated ever since colliding with the right-field wall at San Diego's Petco Park in early April.
"It doesn't affect his play," Ausmus said, "But that shoulder, he gets it treated. So I don't want to ask him to pitch."