Following the Tigers' 8-6 win over the Indians last night, I was on the phone during the post-game show. I'm only bothering to mention that because when I saw Dave Dombrowski on the screen, it became rather apparent that something was going on. How often does the general manager talk to the press after the game? And you never see Double-D on the FSN "Tigers Live" post-game show.
Sure enough, stuff was happening with the Tigers' roster after the game. With Brandon Inge finishing his rehab assignment with Toledo and set to rejoin the team, Detroit had to make a move. And the spot to clear was back-up catcher, so Dane Sardinha was the guy to go. It's worth noting that he was designated for assignment, rather than sent to Toledo, but I'm assuming that's because Sardinha was out of minor league options. But since he's likely to clear waivers, after which he'll probably report back to Toledo, it's really a minor point to discuss.
The other move was perhaps a bit more surprising, though probably could've been predicted around the third inning of last night's game. Eddie Bonine was sent to the minors, but rather than to Toledo, he was shipped down to Double-A Erie. That seems a bit harsh for a guy who was on the major league roster just a few hours earlier, but Bonine really had only two good starts among his five appearances with the Tigers. And that success was surely skewed by the lesser opponents he was facing in the Padres and Rockies. Once he faced American League competition, Bonine couldn't even complete four innings.
Why Erie, and not Toledo? The Tigers must feel Bonine lost something in the transition from Triple-A to the majors, and needs some work to find it again. Or there's just not a spot for him in the Mud Hens' rotation now, with Zach Miner starting games to tune up his variety of pitches.
(UPDATE: According to MLive.com's Graham Couch, Bonine was sent to Erie so he can start Monday on his normal pitching schedule. The Mud Hens will be off on Monday for the Triple-A All-Star break.)
But what made the Bonine move surprising is who was called up to Detroit to replace him. Rather than promote another pitcher to fill that spot, the Tigers decided they could get by without a fifth starter as only four games remain before the All-Star break. So instead, Detroit will carry another bat, bringing back Jeff Larish. Where exactly Larish will play isn't clear to me, but maybe the Tigers thought a left-handed bat with some pop off the bench would be a nice luxury to have against Minnesota for the next four games.
In the meantime, we can ponder who will take that fifth spot in the starting rotation after the All-Star break. Will it be the presumably stretched out Aquilino Lopez? Could it be Miner, who Leyland has acknowledged might be better as a starter? Or could another Toledo guy, like Chris Lambert (8-5, 3.25 ERA, 78 strikeouts in 102 1/3 innings), get a shot?