DETROIT -- The Tigers had a decision to make after Saturday's postponement left them facing six scheduled games in a five-day stretch. Either they could use the 26th slot they received for Sunday's doubleheader to call up a spot starter, or they could wait to see how the upcoming week
DETROIT -- The Tigers had a decision to make after Saturday's postponement left them facing six scheduled games in a five-day stretch. Either they could use the 26th slot they received for Sunday's doubleheader to call up a spot starter, or they could wait to see how the upcoming week plays out with the weather forecast showing potential precipitation Tuesday at Comerica Park and Thursday in Chicago.
It really wasn't much of a decision at all. Rather than risk needing a last-minute move or starting Jordan Zimmermann on short rest Thursday, the Tigers called up Ryan Carpenter to start the second game of Sunday's doubleheader -- his Major League debut.
"Just bringing up somebody for the second game so we can set our rotation the rest of the way," manager Ron Gardenhire said Sunday morning. "You have to adjust when you start having rainouts, and that's what we're going to try to do. … We're trying to get back to normalcy, is basically what we're trying to do."
The Tigers had talked about the possibility heading into the weekend as the forecast lined up for rain and wind Saturday, which played out shortly after Saturday's game was postponed. Carpenter, 27, was one of two pitchers at Triple-A Toledo lined up to be ready, and was already on the 40-man roster.
Carpenter competed for a rotation spot in Spring Training, having signed a Major League deal with the Tigers early in the offseason after six years in the Rockies farm system. The big left-hander made two starts and a couple of relief appearances in big league camp, allowing three runs on 10 hits over 9 2/3 innings with 12 strikeouts, before being optioned to the Mud Hens.
"He's got the pitches that can get people out up here," Gardenhire said. "It's [a question of] command of the strike zone. That's the big thing we saw in Spring Training. He has to command the strike zone better, and if he does that, he's got stuff."
The move pushes everyone else in the rotation back a day. Francisco Liriano, Sunday's originally scheduled starter, will start Monday's series opener against the Royals, followed by Matthew Boyd on Tuesday and Daniel Norris on Wednesday. Zimmermann will get an extra day of rest before facing the White Sox on Thursday in Chicago.
Fiers to make rehab start
Though Mike Fiers is eligible to come off the disabled list Thursday, the Tigers will have the right-hander make at least one more start in extended Spring Training before deciding whether to bring him back. Fiers, who has been in Detroit with the team the last few days, will return to Lakeland, Fla., to pitch in a camp game Monday at Tigertown.
Fiers opened the season on the 10-day disabled list after a lumbar back strain bothered him for much of big league camp. He threw 62 pitches over 4 1/3 innings in a camp game Tuesday and did not report any issues.
If Fiers stretches out to 75 pitches as scheduled without any issues Monday, he could join the Tigers rotation next weekend in Chicago, which would leave the Tigers with a roster decision. Norris essentially is filling Fiers' spot and has a Minor League option left, but has yet to pitch. He was available as a long reliever out of the bullpen Sunday ahead of his scheduled start Wednesday.
Pena weighs coaching career
Another player from big league camp who's working out in Lakeland is Brayan Pena. The veteran catcher is weighing his career options and a potential transition into coaching while he works out at Tigertown in case another team needs a catcher.
"He's still doing his work," Gardenhire said. "If somebody were to make a phone call, he's still working, taking swings in the cages after he gets all his coaching work done. He really would like to play, but he's also embracing this coaching thing. And we're happy about that, because he's really good. He has a really good passion for it."
If Pena, 36, opts to coach, he'd likely stay at Tigertown and work with Class A and rookie-level prospects. It would allow him to ease into coaching while staying close to his home in Orlando.
"I hope he ends up doing this, not that I don't want him to get back to the big leagues," Gardenhire said. "I think he'd be really good at that. He was helping us as a coach even in Spring Training."
Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.