Saturday's performance was a start. Though he gave up a home run to Troy Glaus on a hanging slider, the solo shot was the only hit he allowed in two innings with a three-run lead to work with.
"To me, he was one of the MVPs yesterday," manager Jim Leyland said. "He got some big outs for us."
Not only did it mark Colon's first hold as a Tiger, it was just the second time in 14 relief appearances over his Detroit career that he entered in a save situation of any kind. He isn't trying to make a case as a closer, but he wants to be someone who can be counted on to protect leads in the seventh or eighth inning.
"When [Joel] Zumaya has a day off or [Fernando] Rodney has a day off, he can use me," Colon said of Leyland. "I'll be out there. All I have to do is keep pitching the way I did today, and hopefully he'll give me more opportunities."
Depending on the situation, he might get them.
"I think he's an ideal guy for a right-handed-hitting lineup for one time around the order," Leyland said.
His chances would be better with a pitch he could use to retire left-handed hitters, which have proven to be his problem as a starter. As Colon has shown, he's a different style of pitcher as a reliever.
"His fastball's usually got a little more heat on it," catcher Vance Wilson said. "He doesn't have to establish his slider, establish his split-finger. It's a good role for him. The biggest thing is he's just able to come in and throw. He doesn't have to think and take his time setting stuff up. He doesn't have to pace himself."
The difference for Colon, even between middle and long relief, is in the mindset.
"As a long reliever, you're not going to go out there and do everything in a hurry," he said. "You get to calm yourself down and go pitch by pitch. When you come in as a [middle to late] reliever, you have to come in throwing strikes and make things happen."
Ordonez, Polanco out: As expected, Magglio Ordonez and Placido Polanco were out of Sunday's lineup after playing the first two games of the series. Leyland wanted to give Ordonez the day off to rest his left knee after taking a foul tip to it Friday night, though Ordonez said his knee was fine.
Leyland was still concerned about fluid buildup on Carlos Guillen's surgically repaired right knee, but Guillen felt well enough to start at designated hitter. Omar Infante and Ramon Santiago formed Sunday's middle-infield combination at second base and shortstop, respectively, while Alexis Gomez started for Ordonez in right field. Leyland planned to push the baserunning without Ordonez.
Belated congrats: Zach Miner said he received a slew of congratulatory phone calls and messages Saturday following his first Major League win. The catch was that being in Canada, they were international phone calls. He'll end up returning many of those messages when he's back in Detroit on Sunday night and Monday.
Monroe still out: Though Craig Monroe had hoped to play sometime during this weekend series, his sprained right ankle didn't allow it. He continues to take batting practice with the hope of getting back into the lineup sometime during the upcoming series against Tampa Bay.
Coming up: One of the better matchups of young pitchers in the American League this season takes place Monday night when Detroit's Justin Verlander (7-4, 3.35 ERA) and Tampa Bay's Scott Kazmir (7-4, 3.59 ERA) meet up at Comerica Park. Game time is 7:05 p.m. ET for the start the four-game series.