Jose Ortega will join Bryan Holaday in receiving a promotion from the Triple-A Toledo Mud Hens to the (36 percent Triple-A) Detroit Tigers today. Detroit announced a couple of roster moves this afternoon, some already known, some unknown.
- Placed catcher Alex Avila on the 15-day DL. He played last night, so that means he'll be gone for 15 days at least. He is suffering from a right-hamstring injury
- Designated for assignment the contract of catcher Omir Santos
- Purchased the contract (adding it to the 40-man roster) of catcher Brian Holaday
- Recalled the contract of RHP Jose Ortega
The decision to desginate Santos' contract comes as a bit of a surprise. However, the decision to purchase his contract in the first place was a bit of a surprise, too. It appeared to stem from the fact Detroit needed catching depth due to the recurring pains of Avila and catcher Gerald Laird. He also had caught starter Casey Crosby during his time in Toledo, making Santos a familiar face -- or glove, anyway. Given that Laird continued to show signs of pain -- hobbling at times while going from first to third on a ninth-inning double -- I expected Detroit would continue to carry three catchers. However, Santos hadn't done much beyond the walk-off sac fly against New York on Saturday. He ha just one hit in 10 plate appearances (8 AB). He also appeared not to be on the same page as his pitchers at times. So that might be behind the decision.
With Santos and Avila both exiting the active roster, that left room for an addition. Putting a pitcher in the bullpen puts the Tigers at five starters, eight relievers and 12 position players. There could be some arms that need a bit more resting in the pen. Or maybe it's an admission that you never know how many innings Tigers starters will be in for. Who's to say.
Ortega (stats) will make his major-league debut when he makes his first Tigers appearance. He pitched parts of six seasons in the Tigers' minor-league organization -- and specifically 2011-12 entirely with the Mud Hens. Ortega has a 5.47 era and 1.81 WHIP at the level, suggesting he is not a long-term solution by any means. While on the mound, it's really been The Ortega Show, somewhat similar to Al Alburquerque's strike-'em-out-or-walk-em reputation. In 2012, Ortega walks exactly a batter per inning (9 BB/9), but he strikes out better than a batter per inning (11.5 K/9).
Defensively, Holaday is solid behind the plate, but he also is still learning the position. He has six errors and has allowed three passed balls. He shines when it comes to throwing out would-be basestealers -- he has thrown out 15 of 39 potential basestealers this season. Those 15 caught stealing is fifth-most among International League catchers, as is the 38.5 percent success rate.
Holaday is starting tonight and batting ninth.
Eight of the Tigers' current players began their seasons in Toledo and a ninth has spent a fair amount of time there this year.
Those players who began the season with Toledo are: Holaday, Ortega, OF Matt Young, OF Quintin Berry, RP Brayan Villarreal, RP Luis Marte, SP Casey Crosby, SP Drew Smyly (of course we knew already he was slated to be called up mid-April). Danny Worth began the season in Detroit, but has been up and down several times as well.