DETROIT -- When the Tigers called up Jose Ortega a few weeks ago as an injury replacement for Octavio Dotel, the right-hander was a gifted young arm with some streaks of wildness. Now, he's looking like a Major League arm, and a potential middle-inning option for Detroit.
With two scoreless innings to finish out Monday's 7-2 win over the Astros, Ortega raised his total to 6 1/3 scoreless innings on two hits with a walk and six strikeouts in five appearances. He's thrown 61 percent of his pitches for strikes, and he's getting a better mix of fastballs and sliders than he had when he first came up last season.
Ortega has added some polish to the stuff that left an impression on manager Jim Leyland in Spring Training.
"He's doing well. He's always had that electric arm," Leyland said. "He's got electric stuff, and I like him a lot. He's really a good kid. He's throwing strikes. He's throwing the ball over the plate."
Leyland would like to stretch out Ortega's innings to make him an additional long-relief option alongside Drew Smyly. If Ortega can pull it off, Leyland could take advantage of Smyly's versatility and use him in some shorter lefty specialist situations without having to worry about a long-relief option.
That said, Leyland said he wouldn't mind using Ortega in the later innings to protect a lead. He did that Sunday with a 3-2 lead over Cleveland, but he pulled Ortega with two runners on, one out and a left-handed hitter coming up.
"I feel comfortable with him pitching in the seventh inning if I have to," Leyland said.
Garcia to get fair share of action with Jackson out
DETROIT -- Avisail Garcia is going to get his share of starts during his stretch filling in for the injured Austin Jackson, manager Jim Leyland said Tuesday. He just hasn't started yet.
"I'm not going to play him every day, if that's what somebody's getting at," Leyland said, "but I'll probably play him a lot."
Leyland opted for Don Kelly in center field for a second consecutive night on Tuesday, citing the matchup with Astros starter Lucas Harrell. Garcia will start Wednesday's series finale against lefty Dallas Keuchel and play center field, with Matt Tuiasosopo in left.
The Tigers will face three right-handed starters and a lefty during their four-game series in Texas this weekend. Leyland said Garcia could play two of those four, certainly against lefty Derek Holland on Sunday night, but also against one of the righties.
Given the emphasis the Tigers have placed on Garcia's development, playing time is something Leyland is going to have to watch with him. They want him to get regular at-bats, which was one big factor against him breaking camp with the big league club.
"You'd probably prefer to get him 500 at-bats in Triple-A," Leyland said, "but he's here and I'll play him. He played and performed in the postseason last year. I feel comfortable putting him out there."
Brookens starting to settle in as third-base coach
DETROIT -- While Tigers manager Jim Leyland is getting used to having Gene Lamont as his bench coach after seven years of Lamont as the third-base coach, Leyland feels Tom Brookens is starting to settle in coaching at third.
"He's getting acclimated to third pretty good. That's a tough job," Leyland said.
It's a challenge, Leyland said, because he and Lamont would so often be thinking the same thing on a play. It's also more complicated than going strictly by the scouting reports on opposing outfielders in deciding whether to send a runner home.
"Obviously, we pretty much know how everybody throws. We have scouting reports," Leyland said. "We talk about it. Some guys throw real good but aren't accurate. Other guys don't throw quite as good but are real accurate.
"I think you have to be careful with that kind of stuff, because you don't want to predetermine in your mind, 'Well, if it's hit to this guy, I better not go.' You have to actually see the play, and see it develop. That's why it's such an important job, because sometimes [a ball] is hit to that [tough] guy, but because of the way the ball was hit, he might be backing up to take it, instead of being able to charge it."
Leyland said he also doesn't believe in making decisions at third base according to the score of the game.
"I think you have to let your instincts take over, rather than something in the book," Leyland said. "That's just my personal opinion."
Tigers, Royals set makeup game for August
DETROIT -- The Tigers and Royals have officially scheduled their makeup game from last month's rainout, as the clubs will play a day-night doubleheader on Friday, Aug. 16, the next time Kansas City is in town.
The afternoon game, scheduled for a 1:08 p.m. ET first pitch, is the makeup game. Tickets from the April 23 rainout are good for that game, with no exchange necessary. The nightcap, starting at 7:08, is the regularly-scheduled game, requiring a different ticket.
Both games will be televised locally on Fox Sports Detroit and MLB.TV.
The teams opted for a day-night doubleheader to create a five-game, four-day weekend series, rather than play on a common off-day the following Monday, Aug. 19. Both sides have so few off-days in August that it would have left them in a long stretch of games.
For the Tigers, Aug. 19 is the only off-day from Aug. 2-Sept. 4. For the Royals, it's their lone day off between July 30 and Aug. 25. Any makeup game that leaves a team playing more than 20 days in a row requires a vote of the players.