TigsTown MLN: 'Wolves Still Waiting

After the shake-up in the Tigers' bullpen, Toledo's bullpen got raided. And so, Toledo raids Erie's pen. But will the empty roster spots be filled by one of the injured starters, or will they go much the same way that Fernando Rodney has in his coming back?

Matt Roney and Mike Bynum went up to Toledo, so what do the SeaWolves do now, having lost a setup man and a starter?

Well, unfortunately it doesn't mean Humberto Sanchez will be coming up, not yet anyway. Sanchez is getting closer, but the team will not rush him at such a young age.

The news isn't as optimistic for Kyle Sleeth, who continues to show little progress as he attempts to work his way back down in extended Spring Training. The tightness in his right forearm was only originally supposed to keep Sleeth out around a month, except it's now been six weeks and Sleeth has yet to face any live action. There has yet to be any talk of shutting him down for the year, but the team might decide to re-examine him, with this tightness persisting far longer than anyone was expecting.

So, who exactly did take those roster spots? Well, John Birtwell and Juan Tejeda were both activated from the disabled list, filling the two slots. Of course, that now means the SeaWolves are going with only 11 pitchers, often a risky proposition, especially when dealing with young pitchers that can have bad outings.

As for logistics, Birtwell as well as Mike Bumatay and Lee Rodney will be looked upon to step in the setup role, while Mark Johnson will jump into the rotation, taking Bynum's spot. Birtwell didn't get off to a great start back though, losing his first game on Tuesday night.

The move was likely a good one for the club, as both Roney and Bynum were likely too advanced for AA ball, Bynum simply being there out of necessity to fill a rotation that was missing two main components, while Roney simply "needed to get his act together", as manager Duffy Dyer told Ron Leonardi.

Two more pitchers could well be right behind those two; Rob Henkel and Nate Cornejo, if/when spots become available. Both are far too advanced to be pitching in just AA ball, and likely need more of a challenge, as realistically both should be able to simply over-match the younger hitters they're facing. It'll be a surprise if either is still with the SeaWolves two months from now.

Moving on to current play, Tony Giarratano has finally seen his bat come alive, as over the past week he's raised his average up to .250, quite an improvement after wallowing around and below .200 for the entire first month of the season. Unfortunately, his defense has now taken a hit, especially during Tuesday night's game, where Giarratano committed an unsightly three errors in just the one game. Giarratano is solid yet unspectacular defensively, so we'll go ahead and simply assume Tuesday night was an aberration.

Finally, we end with the Tigers young infielder Don Kelly. Kelly got off to a great start, and while he's cooled a bit, he's still hitting extremely well. At .331 Kelly is 7th in hitting in the Eastern League, and is continuing to show good patience at the plate, with more walks (19) than strikeouts (16). A great comeback for a somewhat forgotten man within the organization.


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