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Report: Tigers Show Interest In Brad Penny

The Detroit Tigers’ lineup is set after re-signing Magglio Ordonez on Thursday. Ordonez provides the outfielder and right-handed bat they needed. Victor Martinez gives them a left-handed designated hitter, along with catching help. And Brandon Inge and Jhonny Peralta were brought back to solidify the left side of the infield.

Signing Joaquin Benoit also filled a key need in the bullpen, providing a quality set-up man in front of Jose Valverde.

But Detroit’s starting rotation still needs some help. And that’s apparently the next item on general manager Dave Dombrowski’s checklist.

According to’s Jon Paul Morosi, the Tigers are looking at Brad Penny as a possible fifth starter. Detroit was also interested in Shaun Marcum before the Toronto Blue Jays traded him to the Milwaukee Brewers during last week’s Winter Meetings.

Penny confirmed on his Twitter account that his agent has “been in touch” with the Tigers.

Last season with the St. Louis Cardinals, Penny compiled a 3-4 record and 3.23 ERA in nine starts. In 55 2/3 innings, he struck out 35 batters and walked nine. In May, Penny strained a lat muscle in his right side, an injury that eventually kept him out the rest of the season.

One concern with Penny might be that he struggled pitching in the American League. In 2009 with the Boston Red Sox, Penny went 7-8 with a 5.61 ERA in 24 starts. He threw 131 2/3 innings, showing durability, but gave up 160 hits.

The Red Sox eventually released him in August of that season, and he signed with the San Francisco Giants. Back in the National League, Penny excelled, going 4-1 with a 2.59 ERA.

Pitching in Fenway Park against tough lineups in the AL East isn’t easy for many pitchers, however. Penny might have an easier time in the bigger ballparks and lesser lineups of the AL Central.

Dombrowski has acquired Penny once before. He was part of a deal Dombrowski made while GM of the Florida Marlins, getting Penny and two other players in exchange for Matt Mantei.

As a fifth starter, Penny would almost certainly give the Tigers innings, which would help the bullpen from being worked too much. He’s averaged 201 innings per season over his 11-year major league career. That’s the kind of consistency that Detroit is looking for, and would presumably be an upgrade (or at least provide strong competiton) over Armando Galarraga.