The Detroit Tigers’ quest to find some reliable bullpen help continues. After Sunday’s 2-0 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates, the team sent reliever Brayan Villarreal down to Triple-A Toledo. In his place, Detroit recalled Enrique Gonzalez, who had a stint with the Tigers earlier this season.
Villarreal began the season looking like a potentially dependable setup man for the Tigers, compensating for the loss of Joel Zumaya and poor performance of Ryan Perry. Despite strikeout stuff, he’d given up six runs and eight hits in his last five outings (covering five innings). Being used only four times in the month of May was an indication of how he was regarded by Jim Leyland recently.
Calling up Gonzalez is a somewhat curious move, considering he was outrighted to Toledo when Perry was activated from the disabled list. At the time, he had an 11.81 ERA in just 5 1/3 innings of work.
Gonzalez had pitched adequately in Toledo, compiling six saves with 15 strikeouts in 10 1/3 innings. But 11 hits allowed indicate that he’s not exactly pitching lights-out relief, either.
The other roster news announced by the Tigers is that Carlos Guillen has been transferred to the 60-day disabled list. In the short term, this makes room for Gonzalez to be added to the team’s 40-man roster. But in the long term, it means that Guillen is unlikely to play for the Tigers this season and his career with Detroit could be over.
Guillen’s return to full health never seemed like a real possibility, though the Tigers held out hope that he could recover and become the team’s starting second baseman. The most optimistic projections have Guillen being able to complete his rehab in five to six weeks. But recovery from the microfracture surgery that Guillen underwent in September typically requires a long process.
Look at Grady Sizemore, who was out almost a full year after having the procedure done. He returned to the lineup in mid-April, but is once again out as he continues to struggle with his right knee injury.
So for anyone hoping that Guillen would provide the hitting help that the Tigers need right now, it’s probably best to look elsewhere for reinforcements.