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Barbato excited in recall to provide 'pen depth

Candelario reduced to sub with left wrist after impressive performance in doubleheader
Special to MLB.com

PITTSBURGH -- After using nine relievers in Wednesday's doubleheader -- including right-hander Alex Wilson twice -- the Tigers bolstered their bullpen on Thursday by recalling right-hander Johnny Barbato from Triple-A Toledo.

The club optioned outfielder Mike Gerber to Toledo in a corresponding move.

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PITTSBURGH -- After using nine relievers in Wednesday's doubleheader -- including right-hander Alex Wilson twice -- the Tigers bolstered their bullpen on Thursday by recalling right-hander Johnny Barbato from Triple-A Toledo.

The club optioned outfielder Mike Gerber to Toledo in a corresponding move.

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Barbato has been dominant in relief with a 1.17 ERA and nine strikeouts in 7 2/3 innings for Toledo this season. He most recently appeared in the Majors with the Pirates in 2017, when he held a 4.08 ERA over 28 2/3 innings. Any trip to the big leagues is fun, but Barbato was especially excited to return to such a familiar place.

"It's nice to be back here and see a couple of the guys that I played with last year," Barbato said. "It's pretty cool. ... It's pretty nice. Pretty much everybody in the bullpen, [Adam Frazier], young guys like that, I was pretty close to all of them. I still talk with them."

Barbato got the news on the tail end of a 13-hour road trip the Mud Hens were taking from Pawtucket to Toledo, just after midnight. The bus finally got into Toledo around 3:30 a.m. ET, and he could barely get to sleep before taking a 7:30 a.m. flight to Pittsburgh.

Although he's been traveling for much of the last day, Barbato's arm is well-rested: The right-hander hasn't pitched in a game since last Saturday.

Candelario resting wrist
Rookie third baseman Jeimer Candelario was out of the starting lineup for Thursday's 1-0 loss to the Pirates, in part because the Tigers were playing their third game in 24 hours and in part to rest a sore left wrist.

Candelario went 4-for-10 in Wednesday's doubleheader with a home run, triple, double and six runs, but manager Ron Gardenhire wanted to be cautious to make sure things didn't get worse. The injury isn't considered major, and Candelario came in to pinch-run for Miguel Cabrera in the top of the 9th inning and played third for the last half inning.

"You saw him wince a couple times with his swing," Gardenhire said. "I guess he had a wrist problem here last year too, and it's something he can't do anything about. Right-handed a little bit more than left-handed, but he's fine. He was ready to play today, but I just watched him swing last night, which he had a great night, but I told him just to take it easy."

Tigers have faith in Reyes
Rule 5 Draft pick Victor Reyes got his third start of the season in left field on Thursday, going hitless in three at-bats, and the Tigers hope to get more consistent playing time for him once the weather improves and the team doesn't have as many rainouts. Reyes has mostly been used as a pinch-runner this season.

"We know what we've got with him," Gardenhire said. "We want to keep him, and we're going to use him as best we can, and we'll get him in games. I trust him. I have no problem with him, but he's a young kid. He played in A-Ball, so we have to be aware of that."

As per Rule 5 Draft rules, the Tigers will need to keep Reyes on the Major League 25-man roster for the entirety of the season, and he must remain active (not on the disabled list) for a minimum of 90 days in order to keep him in their organization. Prior to 2018, he had not appeared above Double-A.

Ben Weinrib is a contributor to MLB.com and is based in Pittsburgh.

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