Notes: Ledezma called up

Tigers notes: Ledezma called up

DETROIT -- A little more than one year after the Tigers optioned pitcher Wilfredo Ledezma to Triple-A Toledo on June 4, the lefty returned on Thursday with what he says is a better curveball and more confidence.

Ledezma got the call after Wednesday's game and drove up Thursday morning with Toledo and the Minor Leagues in his rearview mirror.

"[My Toledo teammates] told me 'Just keep working and don't come back,'" Ledezma said.

From what he's seen, outfielder Alexis Gomez believes his former Mud Hens teammate is ready to return.

"He's been doing a pretty good job down there. He's improved a lot each year, and I think it's good for him to get an opportunity to play," Gomez said. "He has the capability, and I know he's going to be a good pitcher here. He's going to help the bullpen a lot. He's got a strong arm and we'll depend on him."

Teammates and manager Jim Leyland acknowledge Ledezma's role will be different in Detroit. Toledo used him as a starter, where he went 5-3 with a 5.29 ERA in 10 starts and one relief appearance last season and improved to 4-3 with a 2.52 ERA in 12 starts this season.

"He's throwing so well right now," Leyland said. "Really, right now, because he's a starter, he's trained to pitch more innings than Bobby Seay [who was designated for assignment] was. He's got a good arm. His breaking ball has gotten better. Left-handers who have normally had success against him were not having much success this year. He's got good stuff."

While Ledezma was welcomed, Seay will be missed.

"We'll miss [Seay], but at this level, you never know. The only thing I know is you have to keep working," fellow reliever Fernando Rodney said. "I'm happy, [Ledezma's] a young guy and I think he'll pitch good. He's been working hard and doing a good job."

"Whoever comes up, they will be more than welcome here," pitcher Roman Colon added. "If they come up and work and do what we've been doing -- just to keep focused, help the team out and be there for the team -- everybody's welcome."

Ledezma came on to pitch the eighth inning on Thursday, and he worked a scoreless frame, striking out two and walking one.

Monroe may go: Craig Monroe has been limited to the designated hitter slot since spraining his ankle on June 7, when he did his best to catch a fly ball off the bat of White Sox outfielder Scott Podsednik. Instead, Monroe crashed against the padding on the left-field wall and Podsednik went for a triple.

Assuming he can play a full game, Leyland said Monroe will likely return to the outfield in the same city where the left fielder had the injury, except the upcoming series is at Wrigley Field rather than U.S. Cellular Field.

"He'll be ready to go," Leyland said. "I'm giving him the day off, if I can, so that he's all ready and rarin' to go. I've already talked to him and it appears he'll be able to play without any problems. Wrigley's a little bit smaller area to play, too."

2006 is nothing like 2003: With Thursday's victory, the Tigers equalled the 2003 team's victory total for the entire season. Three years ago, Detroit started 0-9 and did not win 43 games until the final game of the year. This season's club won its 43rd contest in game No. 67.

Grateful for his current success, the team's manager is fixed on the present and not the past.

"It is what it is. I'm concerned more with how we play," Leyland said before the series finale. "I'm certainly not asking anyone for patience, because I know they're out of patience up here, and I don't blame them. I'm oversatisfied with where we are. I'm over-satisfied with what our record is, but at the same time, that doesn't mean we're home free and everything's all set and OK, because it's not. We've got to continue to get better."

Coming up: The Tigers visit the Cubs at Wrigley Field in Detroit's second consecutive weekday game at 2:05 p.m. ET on Friday. Nate Robertson seeks his second consecutive win and second career victory against a National League team. He faces Glendon Rusch, who is coming off a start in which he allowed five runs in 3 2/3 innings.

Sam Miller is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.