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Will Denny Bautista Provide Relief?

You feel it, I feel it. There's a lot of anxiety out there about the Detroit Tigers' bullpen. Joel Zumaya can't go out and play with his teammates. Fernando Rodney's shoulder is barking. And Francisco Cruceta just can't get into the country.

One of the guys that the Tigers are looking at to possibly get those crucial late-inning outs is Denny Bautista (I will eventually stop typing "Danny"), who was acquired for batting practice machine Jose Capellan in the other trade Detroit made on December 4. If you're like me and wondering what this guy's all about, Bautista is the subject of a Jason Beck Spring Training profile.

Bautista has the kind of arm that impresses in camp, up to triple-digit velocity that sets up the rest of his game. His problem has usually been control, evidenced in part from his 55 walks over 115 2/3 innings.

So far, though, Bautista believes he has better command of his fastball, a priority he worked on in the Dominican League. And that could give him a chance to win a spot in Detroit's bullpen.

Bautista was especially impressive in the Dominican Winter League, where he struck out 30 batters in 23 1/3 innings, while posting a 1-2 record and 2.78 ERA. (He did issue 10 walks, however, which highlights a problem he's had throughout his career.) His stats for the Caribbean Series don't look so good (1-0, 8.10), but Beck points out that he pitched scoreless baseball in three of his four appearances.

Being out of options would seem to help Bautista's chances of making the Opening Day roster. But if he shows he still can't control that heat, the Tigers have a couple other guys (including Zach Miner, who drew a lot of praise from coaches last week) who could take that spot in the bullpen.