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Jimenez embracing bigger role, workload

Righty has solidified claim to setup spot; Miggy expects to return soon
MLB.com @beckjason

DETROIT -- The American League leaderboard for pitching appearances has two Detroit relievers at the top. But while the Tigers have been trying to get Daniel Stumpf on track by facing lefties as the lone southpaw in their bullpen, they've found their setup man in Joe Jimenez, and are trusting him with eighth-inning leads.

Not only has Jimenez handled the workload well so far, he thinks he could add to it, if the Tigers needed him.

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DETROIT -- The American League leaderboard for pitching appearances has two Detroit relievers at the top. But while the Tigers have been trying to get Daniel Stumpf on track by facing lefties as the lone southpaw in their bullpen, they've found their setup man in Joe Jimenez, and are trusting him with eighth-inning leads.

Not only has Jimenez handled the workload well so far, he thinks he could add to it, if the Tigers needed him.

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"I would say if they throw me more, that's good for me, because I get used to it," Jimenez said. I'm ready every day. If I spend a few days without throwing, I feel bad. The more I work, I think it's better for my body. That's what I'm doing right now. Every day, no matter what the score is, I'm trying to get ready. If they put me out there more times, I'll be ready."

Jimenez and Stumpf entered Tuesday's game against the Angels tied with Minnesota's Ryan Pressly and Seattle closer Edwin Diaz with 28 appearances, among AL pitchers. Only Cincinnati's Wily Peralta and Colorado's Bryan Shaw have more among all MLB pitchers.

Video: CLE@DET: Stumpf escapes a no-out, bases-loaded jam

While Stumpf's 28 appearances have covered just 17 1/3 innings, Jimenez stands at 25 1/3. His 445 pitches in those outings reflect some longer innings, but manager Ron Gardenhire and pitching coach Chris Bosio have kept an eye on that.

When Gardenhire saw an Angels rally brewing against Buck Farmer in the eighth inning Monday, he decided to stop the momentum before the lineup reset and Mike Trout could get a chance to put the Halos back in the game. Gardenhire called on Jimenez, who retired Ian Kinsler and Martin Maldonado.

"There are days where we've said they're not pitching," Gardenhire said. "Yesterday would've been one of those innings, but we had to get out of that inning with Joe."

Jimenez threw just six pitches, but did not come back out for the eighth, saving his arm once the Tigers tacked on a couple insurance runs. He has only one 20-pitch outing since April 26.

"It's pitches, number of pitches, warmups and everything," Gardenhire said. "They're all marked down every day by [Bosio]. The way he goes about it, what he writes down, we know whether they can [pitch] or not. He gives it to me every day, available or not available. And there are times when I'll say, 'I don't care if he's available or not, I'm not pitching him.'

"Good relievers, they pitch. As long as you can keep the workload down where it's not two innings and 40 pitches, normally you're OK with those guys. We're very careful with this, and we will always do that."

Having a set role, Jimenez said, helps him prepare his arm.

"Now I know when I'm going to throw, basically," Jimenez said. "I have to be ready for that certain inning."

Quick hits:
Miguel Cabrera said Tuesday he thinks he'll be ready to return from the disabled list in a matter of days. He took batting practice with the team Tuesday, but had a rest day with his legs to watch his right hamstring. He'll resume running bases, doing agility drills and fielding grounders Wednesday.

• Tigers great Kirk Gibson and longtime scout Murray Cook will represent the Tigers at next week's MLB Draft. Gibson, the Tigers' first-round pick in the 1978 Draft, was a critical part of Detroit's 1984 World Series title run before winning NL MVP honors with the Dodgers in 1988. Cook served as general manager with the Yankees, Expos and Reds before joining the Tigers' scouting department, where he now serves as a senior adviser.

• Former Tigers and current Angels outfielder Justin Upton was presented with his Tiger of the Year Award on Tuesday by members of the Detroit chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America. Upton hit .279 with 28 home runs, 94 RBIs and a .904 OPS in 125 games with Detroit last year before being traded to the Angels on Aug. 31.

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

Detroit Tigers, Miguel Cabrera, Joe Jimenez, Daniel Stumpf