Alvarez has become a bullpen contender

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Two days ago, left-hander Jose Alvarez was supposedly about to get stretched out for a starting assignment at Triple-A Toledo. Now he has all the appearances of a contestant for a second lefty relief role in the bullpen.

He's still in big league camp, and he's on the travel list to pitch in relief on Friday against the Nationals. Whether he's in serious contention for a bullpen spot is something manager Jim Leyland isn't telling, but he isn't downplaying what the lefty has done.

"I think it's fair to say he's made a good impression," Leyland said.

Alvarez has piled up seven innings of work, with eight hits, one earned run, a walk and five strikeouts. Most of his appearances have been in late innings, when teams usually have their reserves in, and almost all of them came in the first half of camp. If he pitches on Friday as scheduled, it'll be just his second appearance since March 8.

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.