That didn’t take long. The Tigers are already raiding the Mud Hens bullpen promoting reliever Francis Beltran. Beltran was a non roster invitee this spring and one of the last cuts. He should be your basic replacement level type arm in the pen. But I don’t understand the corresponding roster move at all.
To make room for Beltran Ryan Raburn was optioned to Toledo. Now Raburn’s only time on the field was in a pinch running role on Friday. And the emergence of Clete Thomas has made Raburn somewhat redundant. Still, with Gary Sheffield injured the Tigers bench consists of Marcus Thames and Ramon Santiago now. So there will be no apprehension on the part of the opposing manager when it comes time to bring in a different armed pitcher.
There was a time when I suggested the Tigers might go with an 8 man bullpen to avoid losing players who were out of options. Of course at the time Fernando Rodney was healthy, Tim Byrdak hadn’t imploded, and there was every expectation that Francisco Cruceta would get in the country.
It may be a short term move with Jim Leyland knowing that the bullpen had been taxed the previous day and he may have been expecting a short outing from Dontrelle Willis. He probably also knows he can’t (or at least shouldn’t) use Jason Grilli again for the rest of the homestand.
The move came down the same day that Fernando Rodney suffered another set back. I view this as nothing more than coincidence because I doubt that Ryan Raburn was only on the team because Rodney was injured. Sadly, given Rodney’s lack of progress and our earlier conversation with Will Carroll, I doubt that we see Rodney at all this year – or perhaps ever again. The fact that his shoulder problems showed up so early this year, after a season which was injury plagued to begin with, can’t bode well. At this point I view a Joel Zumaya return as more likely than a Rodney one.