DETROIT -- The Tigers' decision for Thursday's start looked to be between Daniel Norris and Anibal Sanchez. Turns out both will make a start in the coming days.The Tigers are juggling their rotation for the next week or so, giving rookie sensation Michael Fulmer a break to save him some
DETROIT -- The Tigers' decision for Thursday's start looked to be between Daniel Norris and Anibal Sanchez. Turns out both will make a start in the coming days.
The Tigers are juggling their rotation for the next week or so, giving rookie sensation Michael Fulmer a break to save him some innings while giving Mike Pelfrey a breather to work on his game. Norris will start Thursday's series finale against the Mariners in the spot previously occupied by Matt Boyd. Sanchez will start Saturday against the Indians in what had been Pelfrey's rotation turn.
Pelfrey, however, isn't leaving the rotation. He's being pushed back to start next Tuesday against the Marlins.
"There's a number of factors that go into it," said manager Brad Ausmus.
The first was that Norris' recent work at Triple-A Toledo warranted a call. The 23-year-old lefty, who opened the season on the disabled list before being sent out, tossed seven scoreless innings for the Mud Hens in his last start, walking two and striking out eight against six hits. He has posted quality starts in five of his last seven outings since mid-May.
"His last outing was the best of the year," Ausmus said. "He's been good recently in his starts."
Sanchez struggled for the better part of two months in the rotation before being sent to the bullpen. His recent work in relief has looked more like his old form, including a scoreless 12th inning in Monday's walk-off win.
Sanchez retired the bottom third of Seattle's lineup in order after Adam Lind's double leading off the 12th. After Chris Iannetta sacrificed Lind over to third, Sanchez found some of his old movement to induce Franklin Gutierrez to ground out to short, then retired Ketel Marte -- who had four hits for the night -- on a liner to third.
"I feel really good," Sanchez said. "Right now, I feel like I'm able to put the ball in any corner like I used to. And I think the speed and the movement and everything is back and it's there. And I think outing by outing, I feel better and better."
The difference, he said, was an adjustment on his release point.
"That has helped me to keep the ball down," he said. "I just try to be on top of the ball with every pitch and it's helped me to keep the control on all my pitches."
Tigers have deal with fourth-round pick
The Tigers converted on their second-day Draft fortune by agreeing to terms with fourth-round selection Kyle Funkhouser, the former University of Louisville right-hander who was a first-round pick last year before returning to school for his senior season. Funkhouser, who completed his collegiate career last week, will receive a $750,000 bonus, according to MLBPipeline.com's Jim Callis, which is nearly $235,000 above the slot for the selection.
Detroit, which didn't have a second- or third-round pick this year due to free-agent signings, considered Funkhouser a talent for that spot and paid him third-round slot money. The club has signed all but two of its picks from the first 10 rounds, with high-school right-hander Matt Manning (first round) and University of Miami closer Bryan Garcia (sixth round) still to go.
• Reliever Warwick Saupold is expected to begin a rehab assignment at Triple-A Toledo on Thursday. Saupold went on the 15-day DL on June 1 with a right groin strain. He opened the season for the Mud Hens before being called up May 13.
• Former Tigers reliever Joaquin Benoit, now in the Mariners' bullpen, said he had no issue getting booed in his first appearance at Comerica Park since he was Detroit's closer in 2013. Better to be booed, he figured, than forgotten.
"A lot of good memories here," he said. "I played with a great group of guys, good coaching staff. Fans were great. I can't really say anything negative about it. Well, we didn't win, but we did go and try."
Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast.