MIAMI -- Manager Jim Leyland isn't worried about the impact the long break between the Tigers clinching the division and the opening game of the American League Division Series will have on his starting pitchers. On the contrary, he dropped a pretty strong hint that he could take advantage of the break to put some of his starting pitchers to work in the bullpen, and not just fifth starter-turned-reliever Rick Porcello.
"Without tipping my hand too much, I think there's a strong possibility that you could possibly some of our starting pitchers pitch out of the bullpen in the postseason," Leyland said.
He didn't go into any more detail, but the fact that he wants to get Doug Fister an inning in relief in Sunday's regular-season finale might have been a hint. If Fister starts a possible Game 4, as expected, he won't be starting until a week from Tuesday after making his final regular-season start last Tuesday.
Bullpen depth could be a boost for the Tigers if Bruce Rondon and Phil Coke aren't available because of injuries to their elbow and forearm, respectively.
Availability of Rondon, Coke in DS remains uncertain
MIAMI -- The Tigers will take Monday off before beginning their postseason workouts on Tuesday at Comerica Park. That could be the day they have a clearer idea about their chances of getting Bruce Rondon and Phil Coke back healthy for the American League Division Series.
"I just think the best way to say that right now is that's on hold," manager Jim Leyland said. "I don't know how else to tell you."
Rondon was unable to throw all weekend, let alone pitch, after undergoing an MRI arthrogram on his sore right elbow on Friday. It was his second MRI in three weeks, and it confirmed the results of the earlier exam, which showed no structural damage.
An MRI arthrogram involves a dye injection and is supposed to reveal a better image than a traditional MRI. The downside is that the injection leaves a pitcher unable to pitch for a few days.
Head athletic trainer Kevin Rand said on Sunday morning that Rondon won't throw until he's no longer experiencing discomfort in the elbow. They thought he had reached that point last Wednesday, when he pitched for the first time in three weeks, but recurring soreness the following day sent them back to square one and ruled him out for the series in Miami.
"At this point we're taking it day to day," Rand said. "As soon he's asymptomatic, we'll play catch with him."
Coke is in a similar situation, except that he's back in Detroit, having spent the weekend rehabbing his sore left flexor in hopes of getting his arm ready for postseason play. Coke hasn't pitched in a game since Sept. 18, against Seattle.
Iglesias working to regain timing at plate after week away
MIAMI -- Manager Jim Leyland spent the weekend series against the Marlins trying to get most of his regulars just enough playing time to keep their timing fresh at the plate, and he has been trying to play catch-up with Jose Iglesias after the shortstop missed a week with a bruised left hand.
Leyland's concern isn't Iglesias' fielding. It's his at-bats.
"He needs to play a little bit," Leyland said. "He needs at-bats."
So far it's been a work in progress. Iglesias went 0-for-4 on Friday and was discouraged by the soreness in his hand. He went 0-for-2 with a strikeout and a sacrifice bunt on Saturday, then had his hand wrapped for treatment.
"It's something that I've got to deal with," Iglesias said. "It's not good, but I've got to deal with it."
The key for Iglesias will be how well he can grip the bat. The stronger his hand gets, the better he'll be able to swing.
• Backup catcher Brayan Pena, who defected from Cuba in 1999, hasn't yet read the details of the reported change from the Cuban government that would allow athletes to play professionally overseas as long as they pay taxes and fulfill their obligations to the national team. His reaction to the news was guarded.
"It's a big step, though," Pena said.
• The Tigers will work out late Tuesday afternoon at Comerica Park before leaving for Oakland on Wednesday. The schedule allows the players who live in Florida to have an extra day at home with their families before rejoining the team.
• Leyland said that the pro-Tigers crowds in Miami reminded him of his Marlins managerial tenure, when such crowds were common.
"When I managed here in '97 and '98, half the crowd every night was for the other team when we played Atlanta, Philadelphia, Baltimore, New York," Leyland said. "So I was used to what was going on last night. That's just the way it was until the World Series, when all the fur coats came out."