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Jose Valverde, Bruce Rondon, Jose Ortega could bring bullpen help

With two of the right-handers in Detroit's bullpen struggling, a trio of minor-league players could step in to help.

Jesse Johnson-US PRESSWIRE

RHP Octavio Dotel has suffered from ineffectiveness so far this season as well as (or due to) elbow tenderness. RHP Brayan Villarreal has done nothing to win the confidence of fans, and quite possibly could give his manager pause at this point, too. It may not happen this weekend, but you have to figure roster moves will be coming soon if things don't change quick.

So what do the Tigers have waiting in the wings? None other than our old friend Jose Valverde and Jose Ortega, alongside new friend Bruce Rondon. Here's a look at where the three stand at this point in the year.

Jose Valverde

It's been a few weeks since Jose Valverde agreed to join the Tigers' minor league organization for a month to prove he's got what it takes to return to a role in Detroit's bullpen.

He'll begin an assignment with Advanced-A Lakeland Friday and is scheduled to pitch for the Flying Tigers Saturday as well, according to's Jason Beck. Whether Valverde makes the jump to Triple-A Toledo after that is uncertain, as Tigers GM Dave Dombrowksi told Beck that weather will weigh into the decision.

Up until now, Valverde has pitched in extended spring training, Wednesday pitching a scoreless inning against Braves minor leaguers.

Bruce Rondon

Speaking of Toledo, closer-in-waiting Bruce Rondon has struck out seven and walked two in five appearances. He has one save. He has not allowed a run.

Blade writer John Wagner reported about Rondon's appearance Monday:

For those wondering ... Rondon threw 12 pitches, seven for strikes. He also threw one pitch at 101 mph, two at 100, one at 99, one at 98 and three at 97. But Indy takes a 5-4 lead into the bottom of the eighth.

Pitching like that, Rondon could make his MLB debut sooner than later.

Jose Ortega

But with Jose Ortega's success in Toledo, Rondon's promotion is no sure thing. (You know how the Tigers like to give veterans an opportunity ... and Ortega remains on the 40-man roster.) Ortega also has not allowed a run. He's allowed four hits in six appearances, striking out seven and walking three.