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Wilk gets shipped to minors as Tigers add bullpen help

The SportsXchange

A worn-out bullpen is prompting changes in the Tigers' pitching staff.

Detroit optioned lefty Adam Wilk back to the minors Wednesday night after Seattle knocked him out two batters into the third inning in the Mariners' 9-1 win.

Brayan Villarreal, who had an impressive spring but was a late cut anyway, was recalled from the minors to bolster the bullpen.

As for which pitcher starts in Wilk's place, manager Jim Leyland was holding off on that.

"We have no information right now on a possible starter down the road until (injured Doug) Fister returns," Leyland said.

Only Justin Verlander and rookie Drew Smyly have turned in sturdy starts in the last turn through the rotation. Each lasted just six innings, however.

Max Scherzer, Wilk and Rick Porcello were each roughed up in their most recent starts.

Shifting injured Al Alburquerque to the 60-day disabled list Tuesday created a 40-man roster opening. If it didn't prefigure an addition, it certainly created the possibility.

"I'm concerned that we're using the bullpen too much," Leyland said. "As I always say, when you're using your bullpen because you want to, not because you have to, that's a good thing. When you're using your bullpen because you have to, not because you want to, that's a bad thing."

Leyland earlier in the week ruled out moving Duane Below into the rotation, citing the usefulness of his 12 scoreless relief innings as just what the club needs from an early reliever.

Another possibility is starting just-called-up Thad Weber, whose success as a starter for Class AAA Toledo prompted him to be brought up to help the bullpen.

Weber had a three-inning workout Wednesday, scoreless until he gave up a pair of two-out doubles in his third inning. He faced four batters in the next inning but failed to retire any of them.

But Weber's fastball isn't overwhelming and, like Wilk, he needs pinpoint control to be successful.

"Right now, people are kind of beating up on us and enjoying it," Leyland said. "I'm sure we'll get tired of it at some point. We just have to do quite a few things better."
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