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Tigers see versatile Saupold filling key role

Righty impresses Gardenhire after picking up save
MLB.com @beckjason

DETROIT -- Warwick Saupold has the ball from his first Major League save Saturday. Maybe more importantly, he has a place in the Tigers' bullpen for the near future, and an opportunity to stay off the Detroit-Toledo shuttle.

When the Tigers decided to keep Daniel Norris in the bullpen two weeks ago, the move came at Saupold's expense. The Aussie right-hander went back to Triple-A Toledo for the first time since the Tigers called him up last May. It wasn't a matter of fixing anything with his game as much as a roster-management game.

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DETROIT -- Warwick Saupold has the ball from his first Major League save Saturday. Maybe more importantly, he has a place in the Tigers' bullpen for the near future, and an opportunity to stay off the Detroit-Toledo shuttle.

When the Tigers decided to keep Daniel Norris in the bullpen two weeks ago, the move came at Saupold's expense. The Aussie right-hander went back to Triple-A Toledo for the first time since the Tigers called him up last May. It wasn't a matter of fixing anything with his game as much as a roster-management game.

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Chad Bell's long-relief outing on Thursday and the need for a fresh arm for Friday's day-night doubleheader created an opportunity for Saupold to come back. He didn't pitch Friday, but when the Royals showed signs of one more rally in the seventh inning Saturday, bringing the potential tying run on deck in a 7-4 game, manager Ron Gardenhire turned to Saupold to put out the rally.

Saupold needed one pitch to retire Cheslor Cuthbert to end the seventh, then stayed in. Gardenhire had Joe Jimenez in waiting if he needed a closer, hoping to give Shane Greene a day off, but the combination of Tigers' add-on runs and Saupold's stingy pitching left Gardenhire sticking with Saupold the rest of the way.

"I just loved the way he attacked. He forced them to swing," Gardenhire said. "He was throwing strikes. I liked that part of it. Don't screw around and walk people, just go at them. That was really nice, really refreshing to see him come in there and just attack."

Said Saupold: "I just threw strikes, pounded the zone. I was just trying to get the boys back in the dugout, let them go to work."

Saupold now has 5 2/3 scoreless innings on three hits with a walk and a strikeout.

As the Tigers get ready for a weeklong road trip that includes three Interleague games at Pittsburgh, putting bullpen matchups at a premium without the DH slot, Gardenhire sees a role for Saupold. It's not necessarily just long relief. With Daniel Stumpf the one lefty specialist in the bullpen along with long reliever Norris, Saupold could find himself facing some left-handed hitters, tasked with using his sinker to get a ground ball.

"We like him because he does have that power sinker, and he will throw it over the plate, and he does attack the strike zone," Gardenhire said. "He's got a nice breaking ball that goes down, too. And he's stretched out, which is a bonus.

"We liked him out of Spring Training, and I still like him. I think he's competitive. I don't see why we can't keep him right here. We're going to try."

Happy anniversary
Sean Manaea's no-hitter in Oakland on Saturday night put some spotlight on the last pitcher to no-hit the Red Sox. That was then-Mariners hurler Chris Bosio, now the Tigers pitching coach, and it happened exactly 25 years ago.

Bosio declined to talk about it with reporters on Sunday, but his pitchers took notice.

"I saw that stat," said Stumpf, who was Manaea's roommate at Class A Advanced ball with the Wilmington Blue Rocks in 2014. He planned to say something to Bosio at some point, but also texted congratulations to Manaea.

Bosio was in his first season with the Mariners in 1993, having signed a long-term deal the previous winter as a free agent. He was making his fourth start with the M's, a Thursday night game at the Kingdome, when he faced a Red Sox team that was off to an 11-4 start.

Bosio walked the first two batters he faced, Ernie Riles and Carlos Quintana, then retired Boston's final 27 batters in order. He needed just 97 pitches for the effort.

Gardenhire apparently mentioned it as well, and found Bosio focused on his current job.

"You can ask him about it," Gardenhire said about the no-hitter. "Good luck with that."

Happy Earth Day
The Tigers celebrated Earth Day on Sunday by supporting The Greening of Detroit, a nonprofit environmental group that works to enhance the quality of life for Detroiters by planting trees and repurposing the land to create beautiful and productive green spaces, helping communities rebuild their neighborhoods one lot at a time.

The Tigers offered an Earth Day Ticket Package that included a game ticket, a Tigers Earth Day T-shirt and a donation to The Greening of Detroit.

Quick hits
• Don't expect many double-switches from the Tigers when they go to National League rules starting Tuesday in Pittsburgh, Gardenhire said.

"We're going to be very limited on being able to do all that," said Gardenhire, who noted Victor Martinez will be available on the bench as a pinch-hitter. "If I had one more position player, it might make it work out a little easier, but really there's not many options for that."

Miguel Cabrera said his aggressive tag-up on a Martinez sacrifice fly Saturday was a reflection of the baserunning philosophy the Tigers have taken under Gardenhire.

"I felt lucky," he joked. "We got good coaches here. We've got a good approach."

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

Detroit Tigers, Warwick Saupold