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Putkonen makes long-awaited first appearance

MLB.com

SAN DIEGO -- The Tigers have had plenty of struggles up and down their bullpen. Luke Putkonen hasn't been among them. In fact, until Friday, he hadn't pitched at all.

As odd as it sounds for a right-handed long reliever who made the Opening Day roster, Putkonen went the first seven games without being used. When he replaced Rick Porcello in the seventh inning, he became the last Tiger to appear in a game.

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SAN DIEGO -- The Tigers have had plenty of struggles up and down their bullpen. Luke Putkonen hasn't been among them. In fact, until Friday, he hadn't pitched at all.

As odd as it sounds for a right-handed long reliever who made the Opening Day roster, Putkonen went the first seven games without being used. When he replaced Rick Porcello in the seventh inning, he became the last Tiger to appear in a game.

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It's not as if his manager, Brad Ausmus, forgot he was out there.

"I've talked to him multiple times," Ausmus said. "Today I said he's got a bad manager who can't get him into a game. But with the off-days and the way the games have gone, there just hasn't been the time to put him in."

It's not the first time, and it's not the first manager. Putkonen made only one appearance in a two-week stretch last July before being sent back to Triple-A Toledo, and faced just two batters in that outing.

He got two-thirds of an inning Friday, inducing ground balls, but struggling to get outs off them. The first batter he faced, Everth Cabrera, hit a ground ball just out of the reach of Ian Kinsler through the right side, then Chris Denorfia hit a ground ball deep enough up the middle to allow Andrew Cashner to beat the throw home. He retired Seth Smith on a ground out and Jedd Gyorko on a soft liner right to shortstop Andrew Romine.

It was a tough situation, Ausmus said, but he handled it well.

"He was very professional about it," Ausmus said. "We finally got him in there. I wish the circumstances were better, but with all the off-days and rainouts, the way the games have gone, he's just kind of a victim of circumstance."

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason.

Detroit Tigers, Luke Putkonen