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Liriano close to return from DL

Faedo debuts at Double-A Erie; Tigers sign six more Draft picks
MLB.com @beckjason

CINCINNATI -- The Tigers' six-man rotation plan is in place -- sort of.

Francisco Liriano is back with the team after his rehab start Sunday night for Triple-A Toledo, and is on track to return from the disabled list and start for the Tigers over the weekend in Cleveland. It'll be his first start since May 26, having missed the last few weeks with a right hamstring strain. Manager Ron Gardenhire is not saying yet which game in Cleveland he'll start.

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CINCINNATI -- The Tigers' six-man rotation plan is in place -- sort of.

Francisco Liriano is back with the team after his rehab start Sunday night for Triple-A Toledo, and is on track to return from the disabled list and start for the Tigers over the weekend in Cleveland. It'll be his first start since May 26, having missed the last few weeks with a right hamstring strain. Manager Ron Gardenhire is not saying yet which game in Cleveland he'll start.

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Blaine Hardy, who has fared well as a starter while filling in for the injured Liriano and Jordan Zimmermann, remains in the rotation mix as well. But he will not necessarily be making regular turns between now and the All-Star break.

"He'll be slotted somewhere back in there, too," Gardenhire said, "but he might be in the bullpen for a little bit eventually."

In other words, it'll be a six-man rotation for some turns, but maybe not for others.

"Well, it's six, five, six, five, five, six, whatever," Gardenhire said. "We have it all worked out, I'm telling you."

One factor is the schedule. The Tigers came off an off-day Monday, then have another on Thursday. Then they play on 20 consecutive days in five different cities before their next off-day, then play three games in Houston, followed by the All-Star break.

Another factor is the lack of a left-hander in the Tigers bullpen, something they've survived recently but would rather remedy soon. Daniel Stumpf, out since May 29 with ulnar nerve irritation in his left elbow, began a rehab assignment with Toledo on Tuesday, but will make at least two appearances before he's cleared to return.

Liriano threw four innings for the Mud Hens on Sunday, allowing eight runs on 11 hits while striking out seven and hitting a couple batters. Most important from the Tigers' standpoint, he threw 83 pitches, stretching him out enough to get to his regular pitch count in a start.

Liriano threw six innings of two-run ball in Cleveland on April 9, taking a 2-0 loss, then gave up five runs over 4 1/3 innings against the Tribe at Comerica Park last month.

Faedo makes Double-A debut
Two days after hinting that Alex Faedo could soon be promoted to Double-A Erie, Tigers general manager Al Avila was in Erie on Tuesday night to watch the former first-round pick make his debut for the SeaWolves. Faedo gave up two runs on two hits in six innings on the night, walking two and striking out seven.

Faedo and outfielder Daz Cameron, the Tigers' third- and ninth-ranked prospects by MLB Pipeline, respectively, were promoted from Class A Lakeland to Erie on Monday. Both moves were expected at some point this summer, though an up-and-down start with Lakeland raised some intrigue about Faedo.

Faedo went 2-4 with a 3.10 ERA in 12 starts for the Flying Tigers, yielding 49 hits over 61 innings with 13 walks and 51 strikeouts. His last five starts there stood out, with four earned runs on 16 hits over 24 1/3 innings with seven walks and 22 strikeouts. He had not been throwing as hard for most of that stretch as he was before being drafted last year out of the University of Florida, but Avila downplayed any concerns.

"It's not [a concern], because he's pitching very well," Avila said Sunday. "The way he's pitching is very similar to how he was pitching in college, except that the velocity is not there right now. But I think if you look at the history, there's a lot of pitchers whose velocities have fluctuated throughout their Minor League careers. And even at the Major League level, you see velocities fluctuate, and eventually it comes back. At his age right now, he's perfectly healthy. I think it's just a matter of time."

Tigers sign more Draft picks
The Tigers signed sixth-round Draft pick Hugh Smith and eighth-rounder Jeremiah Burks over the weekend. Smith, a 6-foot-10 right-hander out of Whitworth University, received a $300,000 bonus, just above the slot value of $297,800, according to MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo. Burks, a shortstop from Fresno State, received full slot value of $182,900.

Also signed were Texas State shortstop Luke Sherley (14th-round pick), Texas-San Antonio right-hander Chance Kirby (25th round), Michigan righty Jayce Vancena (31st round) and Sacramento State left fielder Vinny Esposito (34th round). The Tigers have agreed to terms with 27 of their 40 picks thus far.

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.

Detroit Tigers, Francisco Liriano