After the Tigers' 7-6 comeback win over the Red Sox, they made three key changes to their roster, optioning starting second baseman Scott Sizemore and key starting pitcher Max Scherzer to Triple-A Toledo and anointing Carlos Guillen as the new starter at second when he returns from the disabled list.
Armando Galarraga, who was already being recalled from Toledo to start Sunday's series finale against Boston, will stay in the rotation. To replace Sizemore, the Tigers purchased the contract of infielder Danny Worth, who could make his Major League debut as soon as Sunday at second base.
Manager Jim Leyland said he'll fill second base with some combination of Ramon Santiago, Worth and utilityman Don Kelly until Guillen is ready. Guillen, currently on the 15-day DL with a strained left hamstring, has been taking ground balls the past couple days and is expected to begin a rehab assignment sometime next week after the Tigers' current homestand ends Tuesday.
The moves and announcements came just before midnight ET after Detroit's 12-inning victory, and they came in a flurry. While the Sizemore and Scherzer moves sent out two struggling youngsters to work out their on-field issues, the Guillen announcement reveals the Tigers' solution to the long-speculation challenge of finding playing time for Guillen and rookie sensation Brennan Boesch in the same lineup.
"I think they would run me out of town if I sent Boesch down," Leyland said.
The Tigers tabbed Scherzer to fill the void in the middle of their rotation immediately upon acquiring the gifted 25-year-old from Arizona in the Edwin Jackson trade this past December. After four encouraging April starts, however, he fell into a deep four-start struggle that saw him battle his mechanics more so than hitters.
Scherzer gave up 27 runs on 33 hits over 18 innings in his past four starts, the last three of them losses. The capper came Friday night, when he surrendered three home runs -- including a 450-foot drive from David Ortiz -- that tagged him with six runs on six hits over five innings.
Scherzer has given up nine home runs this season, tying him for third in the American League.
"We have some [rotation] flexibility there with the days off [in a week or so]," Leyland said. "We think Max is one of our top-of-the-rotation guys, and we still feel that way. But this is a little bit of a time where we can pick some spots to get him down there, get him working on things and come back and be the pitcher that we know we have."
Scherzer would've been on track to start next Thursday at Oakland. Instead, the Tigers will likely slot Dontrelle Willis into that outing, pitching him in his hometown. Galarraga can then start Friday against the Dodgers on his regular restafter starting Sunday.
Galarraga has boasted impressive numbers in Toledo, owning a 4-2 record with a 3.92 ERA. With a strike-to-ball ratio of better than 2-to-1, his command seems to have improved since last season with the Tigers, where he posted a 6-10 record in 25 starts before being relegated to bullpen duties.
The 25-year-old Sizemore has struggled for the vast majority of this season, but has fallen on particularly tough times lately. His two strikeouts against Red Sox lefty Jon Lester on Saturday night extended his current slump to 0-for-14 and dropped his average to .206. He hit one home run and added eight RBIs, part of the struggles at the bottom of the Tigers' order.
"He's scuffling right now, just overall," team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski said. "We think he's going to be a good player. We think he's going to hit; right now, he's scuffling offensively. His defense has been so-so, but we think he's going to be an offensive second baseman, and right how, he's scuffling."
The telling sign came Saturday night, when Leyland used Santiago to pinch-hit for Sizemore in the eighth inning of a tie game against Red Sox left-hander Hideki Okajima with the potential go-ahead run on third with one out. Santiago lined out to third and stayed in the game at second base before drawing the walk-off walk in the 12th.
"I think it was very smart not just to hold Sizemore until Guillen came back," Leyland said. "I think it was smart, because what you're doing, you're doing something good for Scott Sizemore. He needs to get down. He needs to get away from here for right now. He knows the speed of the game up here now. He knows what he has to do. And just to hold him for another 10 days does not make a lot of sense."
The Guillen move has a twist of irony. When Guillen complained about his role at the end of last season, he made not-so-subtle suggestions that he would be happy with a return to the infield. There were some questions coming out of his October remarks whether he was hoping to move to second base if Detroit didn't re-sign Placido Polanco, a question that became moot once the Tigers committed to Sizemore as their starter at second in 2010.
Guillen came to the big leagues as a shortstop prospect, then shifted to third base for a stretch in Seattle to play alongside Alex Rodriguez. He has 12 career games at second base, the last coming in 1999.
Guillen went on the disabled list April 23 after straining his left hamstring rounding third base at Angel Stadium. The Tigers called up Boesch, who has done far more than expected in his first taste of Major League Baseball. His two-run triple Saturday raised his batting average to .388 (26-for-67), with three home runs and 19 RBIs in 18 games.
The 24-year-old Worth was once among the Tigers' shortstop prospects, having been drafted in the second round of the 2007 Draft out of Pepperdine. He largely struggled as a hitter in his first three seasons, but has proven valuable around the infield this year at Toledo, where he's batting .274 with five doubles, two homers and 14 RBIs. He has played at shortstop, second and third.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less